Citing safety concerns in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, India's leading table tennis players, including Sharath Kamal and G Sathiyan, recently had informed the national federation TTFI that they were not ready to join the proposed national camp before August.
The TTFI, following the central government's decision to open sports stadiums and complexes without spectators last month, had sought players' availability twice for the training camp, first for the beginning of June and then for June last week. However, the players had ended up saying no to both.
“Going to a training camp during this time, travelling for over 12 hours with flight, bus and train is not possible and not even a good decision. The federation had asked our opinion about training camp and we said it's too dangerous to travel now in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic," Sharath Kamal, who is based in Chennai, told ISN.
Stay positive and keep looking ahead: Sharath Kamal
Talking about his training in absence of the national camp, Sharath Kamal said, "It's really hard for us to practice and have a fitness session, in this lockdown. But fortunately I have my Zoom sessions going on with my fitness trainer Ramji Srinivasan every morning and evening. For last 10-15 days, I have been able to go to my parent's house and practice with my father and my younger brother, So I have been able to practice a little bit."
"But I think at this point of time things are so uncertain. We don't know what’s going to happen and when the tournaments are going to begin and when we will be back to training. We should stay positive and keep looking ahead," he said.
Stay Home, Stay Safe: Sutirtha Mukherjee
Meanwhile, National Champion Sutirtha Mukherjee, wasn't too happy with the prevailing situation due to Covid-19 pandemic as it has somehow delayed her chance of qualifying for Olympics 2020. "I had a chance in Olympic qualifiers. I feel bad at the moment because of this situation. I am really sad as there were many major tournaments which could not be held due to Covid-19. I was very much sure about qualifying for Olympics. I had become National champion last year. So it was a big opportunity for me to play and qualify for the mega event," said Mukherjee.
"The whole world has stopped due to Coronavirus. Earlier, I was practicing at Soumyadeep Roy and Poulomi Ghatak Academy. But it has all stopped at the moment. However, they are in touch with me. They provide me online fitness classes. My mental and physiology classes are also going on and that's keeping me busy right now. After the tournaments begin, we will be able to train even better," added Mukherjee.
Advising everyone to stay home, the champion paddler said, "I will request everyone to stay home and stay safe. Don’t go out unnecessarily. The sooner it gets fixed, the better it will be for us. Everyone will be able to go out and do whatever we want to.".
Sportspersons Should Lead From The Front And Motivate others: Madhurika Patkar
Meanwhile, Commonwealth Games medallist Madhurika Patkar said that she hasn't been able to practice since the last two-and-a-half months. "I stay in Mulund with my Husband and I practice in Thane with my coach and in Mulund, Gymkhana with Omkar. Both Mumbai and Thane fall in Red Zone. So I have still not resumed my practice in spite our Sports Minister having given the permission and SOPs. I have gone to the police stations for the permission but in vain," said Patkar.
"Staying mentally strong and being positive is what I am doing during this period. I am training with my strength and conditioning coach Prachi Bhosale on video call. I am doing everything needed for the game (off the table ) like physical training, mental training, shadow practices and video analysis. But now I feel that the sportspersons should be allowed to practice at their respective places. The players from other parts of the world have already started practicing," said Patkar, adding that events won't happen anytime soon unless everything settles down.
"It’s very important to understand that we all are facing a pandemic. So it won’t affect only the players but everyone. It’s time that we support each other and not think of tournaments till India is ready to handle the situation. We can always shift the season by couple of months once the normalcy is restored. It’s going to be challenging and we need to give our best. As sportspersons are tough mentally, we should lead from the front and motivate others," said Patkar.
Trying To Maintain A Positive Frame Of mind: Anthony Amalraj
Talking about the situation, Arjuna Awardee Anthony Amalraj said, "We have to understand that we can't control everything happening around. These are difficult times for everyone and I am not an exception. Of course, there is a lot of uncertainty around the world in global sport. But all I can do is use this time to work hard and improve on my skills. I am trying to maintain a positive frame of mind. Fitness-core, leg strength, speed workouts, back strength, yoga, meditation...I am doing everything that I can to stay fit and positive."
We need To Be Very Careful And Wait Patiently: Soumyadeep Roy
Arjuna awardee and current India team coach Soumyadeep Roy, said that there wasn't much to change the current situation. "I think the situation is quite similar everywhere in the world right now. Till now there isn't much scope of training, other than some robot training and fitness training. From the coming week we can start our training by following the rules laid by the government. We have to be very careful and have to wait patiently until we have some remedy for this pandemic. Though the training has been affected, but there is nothing much to worry about as nobody in the world is able to train properly in the current situation. We just have to be positive and stay mentally strong."
Vishal Sharma is a sports enthusiast and a writer based out of Delhi. An avid traveller, he is also very passionate about music.