At a time when they are restricted to the confines of their house, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) is taking steps to ensure that India’s Olympic hopefuls remain in their best possible shape despite the restrictions that the COVID-19 pandemic has imposed on their lifestyle.
For athletes, who are generally seen sweating it out in training or are seen living out of a suitcase as competitions around the world keep them busy, the past few weeks have been different on many levels.
While the international sporting bodies have suspended their respective seasons in the wake of the pandemic, a lockdown in India has seen the athletes forced to skip their training too.
However, the SAI has ensured that the athletes make the most of the time at hand by devising online workshops for them that got underway this weekend.
The sessions so far has seen the likes of established shooters Divyash Panwar, Apurvi Chandela, Abhishek Verma, boxers Lovlina Borgohain and Nikhat Zareen, and swimmer Srihari Nataraj participate in it.
Meanwhile, the national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand and former Indian hockey captain Viren Rashquian too were seen joining in.
“In these testing times with the coronavirus, it is important to keep oneself physically and mentally active and find ways to use our time better. These online sessions will certainly help in achieving that,” Pullela Gopichand told the Press Trust of India after one of the sessions.
“Sport is not only about being competitive, but challenges will also be thrown up and it is how we face them with the best of our ability and keep moving forward.”
While the first session saw renowned sports science expert and Physiotherapist Nikhil Latey share insights on the topic ‘Training in times of coronavirus’, later one of India’s well-known nutritionists Ryan Fernando had a detailed session on ‘Nutritional requirements of athletes during corona’.
“The sessions were helpful especially given the times that we live in. My training is stopped and I am restricted to my house. The experts shared insights on how we could maintain our level of fitness so that we are ready with the season resumes post the pandemic,” India’s champion backstroke swimmer Srihari Nataraj told the Olympic Channel about his experience.
Meanwhile, Latey too emphasised the reason behind such an initiative by saying: “For a lot of us, the moment the lockdown is lifted, we can get back to doing what we do, but it's not the same for athletes.
"They are unsure if they will be at the same level as they used to be in the absence of regular training and competition.”
“This is why we need to come forward and help our athletes and make them utilise their time and these online sessions initiated by SAI are so useful. With the nationwide reach that SAI has, it will have a positive impact.”
Monday saw the Indian hockey team’s High-Performance Director, David John, conduct a workshop on ‘Basics of exercise physiology’ and Pullela Gopichand speak on ‘Sports and physical literacy’.
The sessions are being streamed live on the Sports Authority of India’s Facebook page.