India’s Sports Week: Anjum Moudgil paints for charity, Bajrang Punia turns poet!

Paintbrush and poetry seemed to be the flavour of the week as athletes tried to beat the shackles of a lockdown

By Utathya Nag

As the world and India grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects, Indian shooter Anjum Moudgil used her fingers for a worthy cause.

Instead of lifting an Air Rifle, the 26-year-old Anjum used stokes of a paintbrush to sketch. 

The 2018 Commonwealth Games silver medallist, who is also a skilled artist, recently put up eight of her paintings for auction on social media to raise funds through the ‘Play for India’ initiative for those in the sporting community affected by the COVID-19 situation.

“I am using my artwork to help someone in need,” she told the Olympic Channel.

“During the lockdown, I told people they can order customised diaries, and I collected the funds from that and donated to an NGO for cancer patients. So all the paintings I have done during the lockdown, I am now selling them for this initiative."

“It helps to take my mind off as well. It’s sort of meditation because when I am painting, I really don’t know what’s happening around me, I am so much into the zone. I am happy and so calm. Just shuts everything down.”

Manu Bhaker moves to stay sharp over 25m

Staying with the Indian shooters, pistol ace Manu Bhaker, who, alongside Moudguil, is part of India’s core group of shooters for the Tokyo Games, has moved base to stay sharp.

Bhaker, who was based in her village home in Goria, Haryana, during the lockdown has shifted to Faridabad, near Delhi, to practice at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range, which was thrown open to the elite Indian shooters earlier this month.

At her village home, Bhaker already has a 10m pistol shooting range equipped with an electronic target system but had no provisions to practice 25m pistol shooting.

Bhaker is aiming to make the team for both the 10m and 25m pistol events at Tokyo.

"Yes, for the 25m sports pistol, I have to come to Delhi, Tughlakabad Shooting Range (Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range) as not a single range for this is available in Haryana. Since the lockdown, I have not shot a single shot of .22 LR,” she said.

She also hopes her home state of Haryana can soon have its own state-of-the-art shooting range so she can practice with her home as base.

Wrestlers grapple with caution

Indian wrestlers, meanwhile, are back to business after the Chhatrasal Stadium in New Delhi resumed operations after the lockdown.

However, with government guidelines mandating no-contact training for now, the grapplers have had to make do with solo training.

Veteran wrestler Sushil Kumar is part of the initial group that started practising at the Chhatrasal Stadium.

“Training has started in accordance with the guidelines of the central and Delhi government. I will be training alone separately for a few days,” he told ANI.

Olympics social watch from India

Chirag Shetty serves up the colours

Colours seemed to be the theme of the week as Indian badminton player Chirag Shetty took to social media to share a vibrant painting of his own.

Maybe a joint exhibition with Anjum in the near future, Chirag?

Dipa Karmakar prays for lockdown to end

The lockdown has been tough and for many, ‘Oh God, when will it end?’ tends to be the first thought after waking up.

Seems like Indian gymnast Dipa Karmakar is very much a part of the crowd and she put up her own customized prayers on social media.

Pumped up for Tokyo, Bajrang Punia channels inner poet

Wrestler Bajrang Punia, meanwhile, is thoroughly pumped up for the upcoming Tokyo Games and even invoked his inner poet to express his intent to give it all at next year’s event.

“I want to fly, to run!

I want to fall too…

But I just don’t want to stop,” Read his poem written in Hindi.

Best of the week from the Olympic Channel

Continuing its trend of churning interesting pieces for Indian sports fans, the Olympic Channel featured some intriguing reads this week.

Indian golfer Jeev Milkha Singh opened up about his Sporting Heroes in a new series and no, his legendary father Milkha Singh isn’t the only one on the list. Read it here to know who all Jeev looked up to in the sporting world.

Gymnast Rakesh Patra’s inspiring tale of overcoming injuries and aspirations ‘to put a ring around Tokyo’ should win the top prize for the “motivation” story of the week..