Sakshi Malik, Amit Panghal welcome new Olympic dates
Ace Indian athletes Sakshi Malik and Amit Panghal have welcomed the decision to reschedule the Tokyo Olympics to July next year citing that it will give them ample time to work on their fitness as well as come back with a stronger mindset.
The International Olympic Committee announced on Monday that the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics will now be taking place from Friday, July 23 to Sunday, August 8 in 2021.
This decision comes one week after the IOC had announced that the Tokyo Olympics would be rescheduled owing to the upsurge in coronavirus cases throughout the world.
Now, with the Tokyo Olympics postponed by a year, most Indian athletes have let out a huge sigh of relief as they look forward to recalibrating their plans for a new calendar year after the lockdown is lifted.
Practice and preparation
"I can only see this as an advantage because now I can practice more and get more time to increase my fitness,” Amit Panghal told the Olympic Channel.
“Another good thing is I will get to know more about my opponents as well,” added the Indian boxer, who qualified for the Olympics earlier this month.
The postponement also means a breather for India’s 2016 Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi Malik, who is still waiting for a chance to qualify for the Games.
“This is some great news as it will help us get into a proper mindset. We will now wait for the announcement of the qualification tournament dates, and plan out preparation accordingly,” Sakshi Malik said.
India’s javelin throwing star Neeraj Chopra, who sealed his Tokyo Olympics berth at the ACNW League meeting almost immediately after returning from injury, shared the same emotion.
“It is great to hear that we have found a way to target. We will make our preparations in the same way that this date is. Now I am very happy,” an elated Neeraj Chopra said.
One more chance
The one-year postponement of the Olympics has also been a boon for some athletes who weren’t in a strong position to either claim a berth or compete at the Games this year.
“It gives me another opportunity,” Indian tennis singles ace Prajnesh Gunneswaran reckoned. “If I do well this year, I have a shot at going to the Olympics in 2021.
“I’m one of the relatively luckier ones in a way although I don’t think it is a time to celebrate given the whole situation,” he pointed out.
The setting is similar for India’s ace horse rider Fouaad Mirza, who had become India's third equestrian participant at the Olympics last November. The Bengaluru rider was facing an uphill task of getting his horse fit in time and this development helps his cause massively.
“The situation could suit my chances better because Seigneur Medicott, who won me the Asian silver medal, was injured last year,” he explained.
“Though he has started training again, we were not sure if he could be fit enough for Tokyo, but the delay gives him enough time. Also, Dajara 4 (newly acquired horse) is young and it will give him more time to develop,” said Fouaad Mirza.
While the rescheduled Summer Olympics is a boon for some and opportunity for others, there are few who rely solely on their relentless training more than anything. India’s veteran boxer Vikas Krishan Yadav fits this bill perfectly.
"Now as the Games are confirmed in July-August, I am training that much harder,” he said.
“I will make sure that when I return to India in August next year, I have a gold medal,” added the professional boxer who returned to amateur boxing for one last shot at Olympics glory.