Nhat Nguyen has found out the hard way what COVID-19 can do to an athlete after contracting the coronavirus along with his whole family in January.
The 20-year-old Irishman of Vietnamese origin has shown some impressive performances this year but insists he is yet to approach full fitness as a result of his illness.
“I’m still struggling a little bit. I haven’t been myself since I returned to training after I had Covid-19,” he told Irish media recently.
“I’m getting tired quickly and my energy levels aren’t there. I’ve had countless blood tests and appointments with doctors and I have a couple more to check my blood.
“They are not at normal levels, but I don’t know what’s wrong. It’s something that makes me feel a lot more tired. But I’m getting better slowly so that’s a good sign.”
Not being in peak condition means Nguyen has had to adjust the way he plays.
“I relied a lot on speed and endurance to dictate play. But now I have to be more energy efficient and smarter. I can’t be going out too fast. I actually play longer rallies but I was only going at 50 or 60 per cent,” added Nguyen, who at 15 became the youngest Irish Open winner.
“Being able to change the way I play is one of the good things about my style. If I was in better shape (at the YONEX All England Open 2021), I could have done even better.”
Nguyen remains on course for a spot at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – he currently sits comfortably 25th on the Race to Tokyo standings.
The Dubliner, who migrated to his adopted nation as a six-year-old with parents Lai and Thuy and older sister Thammy, will feature at the European Championships at the end of this month (27 April-May 2) in Kiev.
“I want to get myself back into (physical) shape again. I definitely feel my game is there but I need to be better physically,” said the former Under-17 European champion.
“I’ll be looking for better results at the Europeans.”