Dutee Chand and Rohan Bopanna among Indian athletes back to work

Athletes at various centres across the country are back to training after the central government relaxed the norms while extending the lockdown on May 18.

By Naveen Peter

After being kept away from the field of play for almost two months, elite athletes in India returned to their training bases this week following the relaxation in the lockdown norms issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs of the government of India.

While Indian sprinter Dutee Chand was back on the track in Bhubaneswar, the doubles specialist in tennis, Rohan Bopanna, hit the courts in Bengaluru for some training and coaching. 

While a prolonged absence from their training routine has had its impact on the athletes’ performance, they were happy to be able to hit the ground running after staying indoors for the past few weeks and engaging in their fitness routine.

“I normally begin my training with a 1km warm-up run. It usually takes me 5 minutes to complete, but this time, it took me over seven minutes. It was as if someone was pulling me from behind,” Dutee Chand told ESPN India after her first session back on the track.

“My muscles had become so tight that my body wasn't ready... It will take me at least 10 days for the running to feel natural again. But I am just happy I can start training again.”

Safety first for academies 

Meanwhile, Bopanna, who runs the Rohan Bopanna Tennis Academy in Bengaluru said that the coaches were taking every precaution to adhere to the guidelines issued by the authorities. 

“The coaches will be wearing masks and gloves. Only the coaches will feed the balls and there will be a maximum of four players per court. After two hours of tennis followed by cool-down exercises, one batch will leave and the next batch will come. The parents will drop their kids and wait in the car,” Rohan Bopanna had told the Sportstar a few days back. 

Bengaluru will also see the golf courses in the city open for some tee-off following the new guidelines that were issued on May 18. 

The garden city is home to three courses that regularly host various PGTI events throughout the year. While the authorities have opened their doors for some golfing action this week, hosting an event still seems a bit distant for them. 

“There will be lots of people if there are competitions. So, at this point there will be no tournaments, I can confirm,” secretary of the Karnataka Golf Association, Prithviraj Urs, was quoted as saying by New Indian Express.

While Indian fencing hopeful Bhavani Devi too will be back at the Nehru Stadium in Chennai to resume training on Thursday, Pullela Gopichand, the chief coach of the Indian badminton team is awaiting the standard operating procedures (SOPs) to be issued by the sports ministry for training facilities. 

While the guidelines allow stadiums and sporting arenas to be opened, it is not clear on what the approach has to be with training facilities. The Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad, which also houses the national camp, is listed as a training facility by the government 

Speaking to Times of India, Gopichand said: “The stadiums have been opened but we have still not received any directive from the government to start our training facility. Ours is part of the individual non-contact sport. I hope to receive the SOP within this week and then I can start training.”

Meanwhile, in Kerala, campers at the Usha School of Athletics, run by India athletics great PT Usha,  too were back on the track after the restrictions on non-contact sports were eased by the centre.