YouTube, WhatsApp and Zoom helping Indian athletes stay Olympics-ready

Digital tools like video-sharing platforms, remote conferencing apps and messaging apps are coming to the fore amid the lockdown.

Holed up in their homes, Indian athletes are ensuring that they not only stay connected with the rest of the world but also keep their preparations for the Tokyo Olympics as on track as possible amid the coronavirus outbreak that has enforced a national lockdown

With the help of digital tools, these athletes can now report back to their coaches or get insights into the daily training programme, altered and adapted for the isolation period.

The Sports Authority of India, for one, has been conducting online workshops through Facebook Live with athletes and experts leading the sessions.

Some athletes, however, are self-sustained in their process to make sure they remain active.

Indian archer Tarundeep Rai, for instance, taking advantage of technology to keep his preparations on point for the now-postponed Tokyo Olympics.

"In this age of the internet, everything is available on one's phone," he told the Sportstar, turning to a popular video-sharing platform to look for ways to keep fit.

"It's a big risk to go to the trainers, so YouTube is the constant company now," the Sikkim archer told the Hindustan Times. "I follow some channels and pick some videos."

Zoom keeps Indian badminton players on pace

Pullela Gopichand, the chief national coach of Indian badminton, along with fitness trainer Dinaz Vervatwala have been making use of WhatsApp and the Zoom app to keep their athletes in top shape.

They also do so to connect with both members of the Gopichand Badminton Academy and Olympic-bound athletes, separately.

"We can only do fitness (training) because nobody has access to courts so we are doing what we can," Pullela Gopichand told the Press Trust of India. "I am sending the players videos of what to do in our WhatsApp group."

The WhatsApp group comprises Sikki Reddy, Ashwini Ponnappa, B Sai Praneeth, Gurusai Dutt, Parupalli Kashyap, HS Prannoy, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty among others.

"Gopi sir sends us program schedule every day on WhatsApp," Chirag Shetty explained. It involves mainly meditation (and) wall practice.

"Dinaz does a video-call through Zoom app and everybody joins in and then we practice together," added the 22-year-old.

Ace Indian sprinter Dutee Chand's preparations are also currently being facilitated through WhatsApp.

"Dutee will give me the video feedback of her set of 30m sprints with timings and, based on that, corrective measures will be suggested," her SAI athletics coach N. Ramesh told The Hindu.

Competition still alive

While these are all training sessions, the element of competition amid the pandemic is still alive.

As many as 60 participants took part in an online shooting competition organised by coach and an ISSF-certified official Ved Prakash Sharma from his home in Delhi, free of charge.

Inspired by the Chinese, who pitted the national team against provincial sides in an online competition during their lockdown, the session got the Indian shooters to aim at electronic targets that fed into an electronic scoring system.

"I announced the competition through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram," Ved Prakash Sharma told the Sportstar, highlighting the value of digital platforms in times of social distancing.

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