The COVID-19 pandemic caused a halt in the international sporting calendar across 2020, even forcing the Tokyo Olympics to be pushed by a year.
While some athletes felt hard done by the delay, the long break allowed others to recuperate from injuries and come back stronger than ever, ready to compete.
Indian boxer Manish Kaushik belongs to the latter category.
The 25-year-old lad from Bhiwani, the same town that produced Olympic medallist Vijender Singh, qualified for his maiden Olympics in March last year at the qualifiers in Jordan. He beat Commonwealth Games champion Harry Garside, in the 63kg category.
While the joy of Olympic qualification was unparalleled, the bout also would have affected his chances at the Tokyo Games had it gone ahead last year.
“I picked up a bicep tear on my right arm during my Olympic qualification bout in Jordan. I think I got hit with an elbow at the end of the first round,” Manish Kaushik told ESPN recently.
“It hurt me every time I tried to jab. My right arm was essentially useless for the rest of the bout. I had to win that bout, so my coaches told me to bear the pain and win the second round as well.”
The Indian boxer could only get the injury checked in Mumbai once the national lockdown was lifted in India in August. Though he did not require surgery, doctors advised him a long period of rehabilitation, which meant Kaushik missed out on the European training camp late last year.
"It was a big disappointment not to be able to travel to Italy. More than that, it was really important for me to take part in any sort of competition, but there was no option but to recover completely," he added.
Manish Kaushik worked hard on adding a bit of muscle to add power to his punches and anaylsed his opponents. Now, he wants to get back to competitive action as soon as possible.
"I've been out of the game for a very long time, so I want to compete again. I'm physically stronger than ever and training harder than before. It's not just enough to qualify for the Olympics. The goal for me is to win a medal at the Olympics,” concluded Manish Kaushik.