Isolation Diaries: With Indian shooter Suma Shirur

The former Olympian is enjoying a much-needed break from her hectic schedule by spending time with her family.

By Naveen Peter ·

Suma Shirur barely spent over a week at home in the last two years.

The high-performance coach with the junior rifle team has constantly been on the move with the Indian team that has impressed the world stage with their strong show over the past 24 months.

But with the COVID-19 pandemic bringing life to a standstill across the globe, the 46-year-old former shooter has been restricted to her house in Navi Mumbai for the past three months.

Olympic Channel caught up with the former Indian shooter who made it to the 10m Air Rifle at Athens 2004 to get a glimpse into how life has been during the self-isolation phase.

At home since March, how would you describe your time at home? It should have been something unusual for someone like you who has been on the move always.

Personally, for me, the first couple of weeks were a much-needed break. As a coach of the Indian junior (rifle) team and as a personal coach to a few of the Olympic hopefuls, the last few years have been a roller coaster ride.

I took charge in 2018 and that being the most important year in terms of the Commonwealth Games, the Asian Games and the World Championships and a whole lot of (national) camps in preparation for those events, and with 2019 being an (Olympic) quota-winning year, it was extremely hectic. When I look back, I hadn't stayed home for more than a week.

So, the first half of the lockdown was definitely a welcome break for most of the shooters and the coaches. But then the looming worry about 'What next?' caught up. And I think the past few weeks have been all about figuring out ways how everyone can stay motivated and try and maintain their skill and fitness level.

When was the last time you were indoors for this long?

I think for me and my husband, this is the first time since we got married that we have spent such a long time at home. It's been 20 years now.

Being an athlete I have always been travelling. In fact, 10 days after we got married, I was off for a training camp. I don't think he will complain anymore.

One new skill you learnt/tried out.

Actually, we are used to having a lot of house help here. But now with none of them around, I don't think I can complain about having nothing to do. There's no time to get bored. My husband and I are both trying to keep the house working smoothly. It's been a different experience, something that we haven't done in a long time. I have been trying a few new recipes as well.

I have a few plants at my place as well. That’s something that I enjoy a lot. Taking care of them. I have had ample time to attend to them in the past few months.

Your preferred way to workout?

I have always been doing something or the other. I need to be active, and I believe everyone one of us should invest time into staying fit.

A TV series or book that you have enjoyed.

I haven’t been able to get to that because there are a lot of other things that have caught my attention… I do a lot of reading when I am travelling. At home, I have been doing a lot of other things, but yes, I’d like to get back to my books and get back to doing what I love.

A person you have video-called the most.

After the initial high of the lockdown, we realised that it’s time for us to do something before things could start falling apart (for the shooters). That’s when we started video sessions at all levels. I have one with the Olympic squad and one with my academy shooters as well.

Young adults and children need other youngsters to talk to, laugh and have downtime. That kind of keeps them motivated and keeps them going. These video calls have given them a platform where they can interact with other youngsters, laugh, chat with them and so on.