Desperate times call for desperate measures. Perhaps no one embodies this spirit better than our athletes, who are resorting to unconventional training methods to keep themselves sharp during the unprecedented lockdown which has been brought about due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Take for example super heavyweight boxer Satish Kumar, who’s headed to the Tokyo Olympics next year having earned a quota in the +91kg weight class at the Asian Olympic qualifiers at Amman.
With his Olympics dreams already having been pushed ahead due to the pandemic, Satish has been spending his time in his hometown of Bulandshahr training by himself. With Bulandshahr having been declared a red zone, thereby cutting off his access to a gym during lockdown, the boxer has taken to using things like tyres and ropes to keep up his fitness.
While Satish has been using tyres instead of barbells, he’s been using ropes hanging from trees to build upper-body strength.
Satish said that all Indian boxers had been exchanging videos of their training and shadow boxing sessions with High Performance Director Santiago Nieva, who had been analysing them and giving them feedback.
“Our coaches have prepared a program for us to follow during the lockdown. It’s basically focussed on fitness work, like running and weight training. Without a partner, we cannot do things like sparring. So instead of sparring, we’re doing things like working with punching bags and doing shadow boxing. We’ll have to make do with these things until there’s a national camp organised,” Satish told Firstpost over the phone recently.
“In National camps, we will at least get to train with equipment. Here, at home, we don’t have access to any. Even if we don’t do sparring at national camps, then we have many other training programs through which we can train. We can do shadow boxing or other alternatives.”
He mentioned that there were plans to send equipment to boxers who didn’t have equipment at their homes.
“They (BFI) had said that those (boxers) who are at home, if they needed equipment, it will be made available to them. They had asked for requirements but I have not got any equipment as yet. I had asked for a couple of things. Some boxers have received them, I think. I believe it may not have been delivered because I live in the red zone or some other reason. I cannot tell for sure.”
Satish also said that the biggest concern for boxers, particularly for those like him in the heavier weight classes, was to keep up with their dietary requirements and maintain their weight.
“Usually, when we train in national camps, our dietary requirements are equally adjusted to that. But now, since we don’t easily have access to supplements, our coaches have detailed what sort of things we should eat so as to maintain weight,” the JSW-sponsored boxer said. “We’ve been having a lot of online classes where we are told what we should be eating and what we should avoid.”
While he added that he was not concerned about his weight during the lockdown, he said he was making sure he was eating food that was healthy. “Because I am in my village, I get to eat pure products whether it is milk or fresh vegetables. But I’m still keeping a watch on my eating as I am not training as much as I would be training in camps. If I will eat more, it will only add more fat to the body which is not good.”
The Armyman added that he has also been helping out on his family’s field during the lockdown.
“After 12-13 years, I’ve had the chance to help my parents tend to our fields. So, they’re also pleased with that.”
Not just physically, the lockdown has also had an effect on athletes mentally.
“We have to be mentally prepared. We don’t know now how and when we will come out of this. There is no vaccine so far. Yes, you do think how long this is going to go on for. You wonder whether it will end or not. Your mind does think about all these things. We cannot do anything about postponement of the Olympics,” he said.
Even though the future seems hazy at the moment with no end to the pandemic in sight, Satish has his goals in the future sorted out.
“I want to work on gaining more strength (in my punches). I have been working with the coaches on the same.”