Louisa Ma – maintaining human connection

Australia’s aspiring Olympian, Louisa Ma, spent the latter half of 2019 travelling around the world, collecting qualification points for the Road to Tokyo 2020; breaking into the world’s top 100 for the first time in November 2019.

However, the 25-year-old spent more than half of 2020 in one of Australia’s worst hit hotspots – Melbourne.

“I haven’t stepped foot in a gym for about six months. Thankfully, there have been a couple of times that I was granted permission to attended a badminton session”, says Louisa.Little did Louisa know that in the month’s following her silver podium finish at the VICTOR Oceania Championships 2020, she would have very limited access to badminton courts due to a global health pandemic.

Tired after spending the previous year scrambling around the world, lockdown had a silver lining – an opportunity to rest and recover. However, the isolation and time away from friends came with a price.

“It was a good chance to recover from some small issues I’ve been having. However, there are a lot of things I’ve missed during lockdown, like more court time, seeing friends and just getting out and about.

“But humans are resilient and it’s amazing to see how so many people have moved to adapt to our current conditions”

“There has been a big emphasis on maintaining the human connection and being stuck at home has allowed for people to ‘slow down’, spend more time with family, call and check in with friends and a focus on maintaining mental health”

As experienced by several other athletes across the world, the forever changing status of COVID-19 made it hard to stick to a routine. While players like Oliver Leydon-Davis (New Zealand) turned to books and methods of positive self-talk, Louisa trialed various routines to find the perfect balance between work, home-based trainings and video calling friends to keep morale high.

“The restrictions changed frequently, which was frustrating. However, living in Melbourne, I’ve had the opportunity to try out many different routines by now, so I know how to conduct my week and figure out what sorts of things work well for me”, says Louisa

Para badminton player, Celine Vinot, also live in Melbourne and shared similar frustrations to Louisa. After making fast progressions in Oceania’s Para badminton space, Vinot struggled to capitalise on her momentum – but a sponsorship deal managed to keep her motivated

Last week, Victoria celebrated a significant drop in COVID-19 cases resulting in relaxing laws and border controls. Both players are ‘looking forward to’ and feeling optimistic about a prompt return to the court.