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Here’s how Indian sportspersons are using the lockdown to prepare for a stronger comeback

P.V. Sindhu during the practice session at Senior National badminton championship in Guwahati on February 13, 2019.

P.V. Sindhu during the practice session at Senior National badminton championship in Guwahati on February 13, 2019.   | Photo Credit: RituRajKonwar

Sprinter Dutee Chand entered 2020 with a dream — to bring home a medal from the Tokyo Olympics.

With a support team of 10 members that includes a coach, assistant coaches, physiotherapists, and nutritionists, Dutee was training eight hours a day to qualify for the event.

But all that came to a standstill when the Government announced a lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19. Then, Olympics 2020 was postponed to July 2021.

“But the damage is already done. The last time I did not train for two months was when I was banned in 2014. It took me more than a year to gain back my momentum, so this lockdown is definitely going to impact my performance,” says the 24-year-old sprinter who clinched silver in the women’s 100-metres at the Jakarta Asian Games in 2018.

Indian sprinter Dutee Chand

Indian sprinter Dutee Chand   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

For the past few months, it has been a world without sports — except for football, which started in May in a few European countries but without spectators. Deprived of their training facilities and adjusting to changed schedules, the country’s sportspersons are having a challenging time.

While the Government has allowed stadiums to open with several restrictions, normalcy is a far cry.

“It has been 15 days since I started coming to the stadium, a lot of time goes into temperature checks and sanitisation, but I won’t complain since that is the need of the hour. Currently, I have started only two hours of training as I do not want to strain my body. With time I am planning to increase the practice duration,” says Dutee who has been training at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.

Maintain momentum

The long break may have hampered her training as far as playing the sport is concerned, but world badminton champion PV Sindhu has ensured that she maintained the desired fitness levels.

She has been following the fitness regimen of her trainer M Srikanth Verma and training at home under the supervision of her father and former volleyball international player PV Ramana. “I don’t see any reason to be worried on the fitness count. It is just a question of time before I am back to my peak with the racquet too once training resumes,” she says over phone from Hyderabad.

It is no different for Indian women’s ODI cricket captain Mithali Raj. “Yes, in fact, the break helped me stay more focussed on my fitness, working on things which I would have otherwise ignored,” she says.

Indian captain Mithali Raj in action during the women's one-day international cricket match between India and South Africa in Vadodara on October 11, 2019.

Indian captain Mithali Raj in action during the women's one-day international cricket match between India and South Africa in Vadodara on October 11, 2019.   | Photo Credit: Vijay Soneji

“Luckily, I could even resume training at St. John’s Foundation in Hyderabad with a couple of boys bowling to me in the nets. It is always a great feeling to be back knocking the ball around,” Mithali adds, “Having played for so long (21 years of international cricket), we are aware of the challenges once we are back to playing the game at that level and have been consciously working on a programme to be ready for any task.”

Former world number one shuttler Kidambi Srikanth and the world championship bronze medallist B Sai Praneeth too echo a similar opinion. Like all shuttlers of Gopi Academy (except Sindhu), this duo is also training online daily with the help of renowned fitness trainer Dinaz Vervatwala.

Chief national coach P Gopichand is confident that it should not take more than three weeks for his players to find the kind of form with the racquet which makes them a formidable force. “Fortunately, every player is taking care of his or her fitness regimen. That is the key,” he says.

Shooter Esha Singh

Shooter Esha Singh   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

For young shooter Esha Singh, named in the core group of Indian shooters preparing for the next Olympics, it is no different even as she has the huge advantage of her own ‘shooting range’ at home in Hyderabad. “I believe that staying focussed is the key during such long breaks and I am fortunate to keep training consistently. It should not be an issue when I am back in the circuit,” she says.

Visakhapatnam-based skater Priyam Tated who represented India at the World Cup Figure Skating Championship in Spain in 2019 does not remember the last time he was away from the rink for this long. He started skating at the age of three and has participated in over seven international events. He keeps himself busy by hosting Zoom workout sessions for fellow skaters. These sessions also help him stay fit.

Visakhapatnam-based skater Priyam Tated during a competition

Visakhapatnam-based skater Priyam Tated during a competition   | Photo Credit: RANIERO CORBELLETTI

“After the pandemic, protocols will no longer be the same. I am wondering how it will be to play a sport without having spectators to watch and cheer us on. Skating as a sport will undergo changes as they will have to keep sanitising the skates and rinks. But these are our speculations, only time will tell how much the lockdown will cost us,” says the 16-year-old recipient of the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar, 2019.

(With inputs from VV Subrahmanyam)

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Printable version | Aug 12, 2020 7:10:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/indian-sportspersons-are-using-the-lockdown-to-prepare-for-a-stronger-comeback/article32022050.ece

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