Athletes in limbo: Training suspended, events delayed due to virus

Athletes in limbo: Training suspended, events delayed due to virus

Prabhjeet won a gold medal at Senior Open Athletic Championship.

Neha Saini
Tribune News Service
Amritsar, May 10

A raging pandemic and restrictions that come with it have suspended several sporting events, resulting in interruption in training and coaching of sportspersons. With no colleges and universities open and training centres shut due to Covid curbs, local athletes and sportspersons are facing a challenge to maintain conditioning routine from home confinement and face a possible drip in performance while they wait for championships and tournaments to resume.

Harnoor with his silver medal.

“The situation is very alarming for young sportspersons, who were to begin with off season training schedule for upcoming tournaments. The training gaps created due to Covid-19 restrictions will definitely impact their physical and mental fitness,” shared Rankirat Singh, an athletics coach at the Khalsa College. With an experience of 20 years as a sports coach and trainer, Rankirat has been working with upcoming sports talent from Amritsar, grooming them for national and international events. But he said the complete suspension of training modules has long lasting effects on an athlete’s performance. “With amateur and professional sporting events now delayed, uncertainty about the future will lead to physical, technical and mental damage. Track and field events require outdoor training module with equipment, which is not possible through online mode. Also, the delayed trials and the selection process for sporting talent from the state will deny many students of the benefits that come under sports quota,” he said.

Prabhjeet Kaur, 20, an athlete from Khalsa college for Women, had qualified for the nationals in high jump. She had won gold in the Senior Open State athletics championship held at Patiala in February early this year. She was to begin her training for nationals in March, when the state imposed stricter curbs with surge in Covid cases. “I lost out on my training schedule for one month and had to only rely on physical and weight training at home. I need jumping pits, proper weight and endurance training which is not possible at home. Last year also, no training happened and I had to participate in February competition with just few days of preparation. I have hopes from the nationals, but with such a gap in training, my confidence is beginning to break and I do not know if I have a shot at that medal now,” she shared.

Prabhjeet has started to train at the university grounds for two hours in morning after taking permission. But she remains unsure about the future. Sharing a similar story is Harnoor Singh, a Class XII student from Sri Harkrishan Public School, GT road, who is also a rising athlete. Harnoor had won silver in discus throw at the National Junior Athletics Championship held in Guwahati in February 2021. He planned on to train harder to improve his performance to qualify for an international event. “But I had to abandon my plans midway, as it requires training. Since it’s a field event, I have not had the chance to train for the past one-and-half month. It affected my performance and fitness level,” he said. Adding to his woes, he also has to wait for the CBSE to take a call on Class XII boards. “It’s such a frustrating time as my sports and academics have been deeply damaged due to the pandemic induced lockdown. It impacts my career goals as well,” he said.

Rankirat shared that there were many young and upcoming sportspersons from the rural areas, who have had to drop out or leave training in between due to the lockdown. “As a coach and mentor, I scout for talented students for honing their skills. I used to train 10-15 new and 6-7 professional athletes before lockdown. With suspended training, all of them are facing uncertainty regarding their future.”

Both Harnoor and Prabhjeet feel that the government must consider the genuine issues being faced by sportspersons and allow training with limitations. “We should be allowed access to training grounds for non-contact sports even if it comes with limitations. By following safety protocol and exercising caution, at least we will able to prepare ourselves,” said Harnoor.

“At least something is better than nothing,” added Rankirat.

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