Pictured: Gronya Somerville, Australia. Photo credit: Badminton Photo
It wasn’t until mixed doubles partner, Simon Leung, brought up the COVID-19 topic at the end of January that Somerville learnt of the virus. While competing in the Princess Sirivannavari Thailand Masters 2020 in January, Leung reached out to alert Gronya about the unfolding events in China, encouraging her to wear a mask while in Thailand.
“Little did I know it would be my last International tournament for a very long time”, says Gronya
Only two weeks later, Somerville reigned supreme at the VICTOR Oceania Championships in a fully functioning nation at the time. She took home three gold medals (women’s doubles, mixed doubles and women’s team), followed by the Australian National Championships.
During the Australian National Championships, word began to spread around the escalating COVID-19 situation around the world, met by more unfortunate news as many of her planned tournaments were cancelled in quick succession.
On the morning of her flight to Lisbon, the first of many BWF statements was released, announcing the cancellation of the Portugal International. Correctly assuming the worst, Gronya’s schedule to compete in six tournaments (four in Europe and two in Asia) was heavily disrupted.
“We couldn’t be sure about which tournaments would be cancelled and which would go ahead and still wanted our best chance to qualify for Tokyo. But as the gravity of the situation began to set in, it became scarier and scarier as the uncertainty of not only the tournaments but now the Olympics even taking place grew”, says Gronya.
However, the International Olympic Committee has since announced the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Meanwhile, the closure of gyms and indoor sports centres in Australia (and around the rest of the world) has caused aspiring athletes to rethink their training plans.
“I tried to get my hands on any gym equipment and workout gear to set up a home gym. I plan to bring my Sports Science Degree skills out during this time to construct a weekly training regime that can somewhat replicate my usual training programme”
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15sec fast/15 sec slow- x2 each 5 EXERCISES: 1. Pitter patter -RP 2. Twists 3. Slow: Lunge/Fast: Front,back 4. In and Out 🤤 5. Cross (in,out, forward/back) Enjoyed the sunshine for this outdoor workout but it can be easily done indoors. In Melbourne now we are still allowed outside if we keep a 2metre distance. Pardon the screams in the background. Good luck guys!
“I want to maintain my fitness and even improve some areas that I had neglected. As someone who loves having a goal and something to aim for, this time of uncertainty is daunting as none of us know how long this will last”
“I love a challenge and this will be one of the toughest ones yet. I’m hoping to create a tough workout regime, enjoy different types of exercise I wouldn’t normally do, make the most of the time spent with my family, help fix up our house, get my life admin in order, work on my personal brand and do my best to continue to support my community and those around me. I wish everyone safety and healing during this tough time”, says Gronya.
Currently, Somerville sits at number 26 in the women’s doubles world rankings, having celebrated a successful qualifying period over the last year with Setyana Mapasa.
While the BWF shows full support of the IOC’s decision to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Games, the international body is looking into the various options surrounding freezing world rankings, Olympic/Paralympic qualification and tournaments over the next year, with more updates to follow.