Best quotes from 2020: It wasn’t all doom and gloom, COVID also got athletes to think out of the box

In what was a testing year, Olympic Channel featured some of the biggest newsmakers in the Indian sporting world. Here are their finest words from 2020.

By Naveen Peter ·

The 2020 season was challenging on many fronts. Be it dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic or the repercussions that followed; it was a year that tested even the champion of champions. And things were no different for athletes around the world. 

From being restricted to their houses to some major changes to their routines, sportspersons had to think out of the box to keep up with the times. 

As the world dealt with the pandemic, Olympic Channel interacted with some of the established names in the sporting fraternity to get their thoughts on the changing world.

Here’s a selection of the best reactions from the season gone by. 

Abhinav Bindra banks on athletes’ resilience

The COVID-19 pandemic meant that the Tokyo Olympic Games were postponed by a year.

While the news received mixed reactions, Indian shooting legend Abhinav Bindra believed that the athlete community would rise to challenge and be ready for the Games in a year.

Abhinav Bindra is confident of athletes bouncing back from the unexpected break due to COVID-19.

I believe athletes -- not only in India but on the whole -- are the most resilient people I know and they will take this scenario, this challenge in a sporting way and rejig their plans,” Abhinav Bindra said.

“But of course, the priority for everybody remains to take care of their health, make sure everybody around them remains healthy and be socially responsible people and contribute towards slowing down the (COVID-19) spread and towards the containment of the virus.”

Double the josh for Deepa Malik

Meanwhile, Deepa Malik, the silver medallist from the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games was confident of the athletes coming back stronger at the now-postponed Games.

“You know, when you feel that you are losing something is the only time when you value it. And I think now the athletes will value it even more,” Deepak Malik, who also serves as the president of Paralympic Committee of India, said.

I think the pandemic situation has only made us stronger and the eagerness to participate and the want of getting out onto the field at the Olympic stage has only grown stronger,” she said.

“This was an opportunity that was lost but has now come back to them. The killer instinct and the josh (energy) will surely be double.”

Sjoerd Marijne insists on controlling the controllables

Staying indoors for long periods is never an easy task. Many around the world learnt this the hard way.

Indian women’s hockey team Sjoerd Marijne spent close to 10 months at the national camp in Bengaluru. Photo: Hockey India

The reality was no different for the athletes as they shunned their training sessions and matches and stayed home to help the world fight the novel coronavirus.

But how does one keep up and stay engaged with no exposure to the outside world? Sjoerd Marjine, the head coach of the Indian hockey women’s team, had an answer.

“We cannot be thinking about what we have to do in a few months or a few years. But instead, try to be happy daily,” the Dutchman said. “I know that it’s easier said than done.

But I realise that it’s better to think about things you can control than the things you can’t. Like, I started writing a book during the lockdown because writing gives me energy. It feels like I did something productive. Something that I can feel good about. And that energy is carried forward to the next day.

“It’s about trying to do something useful in my time. So by doing these things you get positive energy and you stay away from negative thoughts,” Marijne, a certified motivational speaker, said.

How Dipa Karmakar proved a point

For Indian gymnast Dipa Karmakar, the year proved to be a blessing in disguise.

Struggling with injuries coming into the season, Dipa Karmakar’s chances of making the Tokyo Olympics looked slim. But with the Games pushed by a year, the Indian spent the entire year in rehabilitation and will hope to make a case for Tokyo 2020 when the season returns.

Speaking to the Olympic Channel on the anniversary of her historic feat at Rio 2016, the Tripura star recollected how a foreign coach’s assessment of the Indian women gymnasts drove her to aim big.

Dipa Karmakar will look to qualify for her second Olympics at Tokyo 2020.

I remember a foreign coach lining us up and stating ‘only the boys had any chance of winning a medal (at the 2014 Commonwealth Games). That hurt me a lot. Even my coach, Bishweshwar Nandi, was brought to tears. I felt betrayed and thought ‘why can’t women?” she asked.

“That’s when Nandi sir and I came up with the idea of working on the Produnova. It was difficult, but I was determined to win a medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and prove the doubters wrong,” Karmakar revealed.

Vikas Krishan dedicated to Olympic gold

Having competed in two Olympics, Vikas Krishan knows a thing or two about what it takes to succeed at that level. So, it’s no surprise that the Indian boxer in the welterweight division oozes of passion and commitment when he speaks of his Olympic ambition.

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If someone told me I have to give my life for an Olympic gold medal I am ready. I’ll say, ‘Take my life and give me an Olympic gold medal. Just let me live with it for one day,” Vikas Krishan said after sealing his place at Tokyo 2020.

“I am on a proper diet, I have cut my weight and I am doing proper training as well. So, whatever it takes, I am doing everything.”