Indian wrestler Pooja Dhanda hasn’t had an ideal start to her 2020 campaign.
After falling short in the season’s first national trials to upcoming grappler Anshu Malik, the 26-year-old would once again lose to the same opponent in the competition to select the team for the Asian Olympic qualifiers.
Returning to the mat after an injury-stricken 2019, Pooja Dhanda had looked off-colour in the limited opportunity she got in the initial two months of the Olympic year.
But now with Games and the Olympic qualifiers pushed to a further date due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian wrestler is eager to make the most of the time at hand.
Yoga time for Pooja Dhanda
Restricted to her house in Hisar, Haryana, due to nation-wide lockdown, Pooja Dhanda has been utilising the time to practice yoga and work on her mental toughness.
“This lockdown is proving good for me. Earlier, I could not practice yoga regularly due to two training sessions per day. But now with more time, I have made it a regular thing in my routine. I meditate and do yoga every day in the evening. One session can go up to two hours,” she was quoted as saying by WrestlingTV.
“My body is not very flexible. But now I feel a little more flexible than before. It is also helping me improve my agility and focus.”
Aided by her physiotherapist Satya Prakash, the former world championships bronze medallist, is ensuring that she follows the programme perfectly, leaving no room for complacency.
“People might be struggling to find things to get themselves involved in but nothing has changed for me. Given the schedule my physio has given to me, I hardly find free time. The two sessions keep me busy throughout the day,” she told the New Indian Express.
Pooja Dhanda awaiting another chance
Pooja Dhanda’s hunger to perfection also stems from the fact that the wrestler has been handed a new lease of life with the Olympics being postponed to 2021.
With an Indian wrestler yet to book a quota place in the 57kg weight category, Pooja Dhanda is expected to get another opportunity to have a crack at making it to the India squad for the Olympic qualifiers next year.
And she wants to ensure that she is ready whenever the opportunity knocks at her door. “I’ve never felt so confident in the past,” she said.
“Injuries have hampered my progress quite often, but these days I am in the best shape and free of all injuries. I am confident that I will make the Olympic cut.”
Analysing her opponents through old footage and working on her mental game, Pooja Dhanda is surely making the most of the unexpected break, but will this be enough for her to turn the tide? Only time will tell.