For A Runner To Stand Still

Written by Dutee Chand

Published: March 30, 2020 12:40:48 am

The Tokyo Games is scheduled to take place from July 24 to August 9. (Source: File Photo)

I am at home in Bhubaneswar right now and like the rest of the country, observing social distancing because of the coronavirus outbreak. My routine has changed since the lockdown has been enforced, but I am not complaining because at present, everybody’s priority is to stop the virus from spreading.

I usually train twice a day and upwards of six hours. The Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, where I go to train every day, is locked. I have been doing basic exercises at home and trying to stay as fit as possible. Yet, this past week, I felt like I have lost all my strength. Missing a day of training sets one back by a week. For athletes, if we don’t go out and run or follow our regular training regime, we feel empty. Imagine one day you are doing high-intensity work-out and the next day you are hardly moving. It makes you lethargic.

I have also had to change my diet. For this period, I am not taking supplements and have reduced my protein intake because I am hardly training. I am also unable to sleep at night, as I have naps during the day. Earlier, because of training day-in and day-out, I would fall asleep as soon as I hit the bed.

The upside is that I have got a lot of time to watch movies, listen to music and do household chores. I am also exchanging messages with athletes who are my friends and for all of us not being able to train or compete is a new experience. Nobody is stepping out and everyone is at home. That said, what an athlete has to forgo in these difficult times is nothing compared to those who have been affected.

Around the world, all events have either been cancelled or postponed. Athletes have been preparing for the Olympics for the past four years, so it does impact us when it is postponed. It was the right decision to postpone the Games because the health and well-being of everyone comes first. In such times, sports has to be on the back-burner.

For those who had already qualified for the Olympics, it would have been a blow because they thought that they would be in Tokyo in four months’ time and would have planned their training regimen and competition schedule accordingly, to peak at the right time. They will be experiencing a void, all the money and effort they invested to qualify will seem wasted. But it is important for everyone to be patient. In these grim times, medals will be the last things on the minds of sportspersons.

For someone like me, who was still hoping to qualify as the deadline to make the cut was in late June, the postponement means I will get more time. As the Tokyo Games are now going to be held in 2021, I guess the qualifying period window will open again and this will be an opportunity. Of course, there are many uncertain factors like, what if an athlete gets injured later in the year. Also, everyone will be a year older and that could make a difference.

I was planning to make Germany my training base and also participate in competitions in Europe in a bid to qualify for the Olympics. But because of the pandemic, this won’t be possible. Just see how things change. Right now, no one can even think of going to Europe.

All our other athletes who were abroad are now back in India and in quarantine or following lockdown instructions. These are difficult times for everyone. But the key is to bounce back as a country. Everyone must not only think of themselves but also of other people and must do their best to ensure that the coronavirus does not spread. The efforts and sacrifices of healthcare workers, doctors, nurses and those who are part of essential services, in the private sector and government, who have to go out everyday must be applauded.

The writer, 24, is the national record holder in the 100 metres and an Asian Games medalist. She spoke to Nihal Koshie

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