India’s Sports Week: Hockey stars back to school and why Tendulkar tagged Roger Federer

A unique training module under lockdown for the Indian hockey teams and Indian table tennis stars taking up a noble cause. Top stories in a week that was.

By Utathya Nag

Confined to their homes amidst the COVID-19 pandemic-enforced lockdown, the Indian men’s and women’s hockey teams were ‘back to school’ this week polishing up the theoretical aspects of the game.

In the exercise conducted by Hockey India, players were given a PowerPoint presentation and study materials, including the rule book to go through.

After sufficient time studying these, they took an online test and each player got a unique question paper.

Indian national men’s hockey team coach Graham Reid was thrilled with the initiative.

“There were a lot of things in the classes, the rules for example. I was very happy with what we were going through because in this day and age with referrals and everything, it’s an important part of learning as a player as well,” he told the New Indian Express.

Table tennis stars bat for grassroots 

The COVID-19 situation has emerged as a challenge for sports globally, especially at the grassroots levels. But Indian table tennis stars Achanta Sharath Kamal, G Sathiyan and Neha Aggarwal have extended a helping hand.

As part of the initiative named ‘Our chance to serve’, they have been reaching out to donors to collect money which will be handed over as a one-time aid to more than a hundred players, coaches, referees and umpires who work at the grassroots but heavily affected by the COVID-enforced lockdown.

“Ever since the lockdown, they have been unable to conduct any training classes. I also know that a lot of coaches, whose livelihoods depend entirely on conducting summer classes, have had no work since March,” three-time Olympian Sharath Kamal told ESPN.

Till now, the trio has raised over Rs 17 lakh.

Indian race walkers shake off rust

With the lockdown gradually being relaxed in phases, athletes are slowly getting back on track.

Among them, Tokyo-bound Indian race walkers KT Irfan and Bhawna Jat have begun their journey back towards full fitness at the SAI centre in Bengaluru.

“There was a long gap, so there is some kind of rustiness. But it is good that we are training outdoors,” KT Irfan told the New Indian Express.

Bhawna Jat, meanwhile, is gradually pacing herself.

“It has not been too long that we started training. It is very important that we do not take too much load right now,” she said.

Master blaster tries his hand at tennis

Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar might have been the master of straight drives during his playing days but is now seeking to perfect his forehands in tennis.

The Little Master even reached out to tennis legend Roger Federer for some tips.

Hima Das racing down the tracks on cycle

Staying with India’s emerging champions, track and field sensation Hima Das is trying to fast-track her return to full fitness in her bid to qualify for the Tokyo Games next year.

Hima shared a video of her cycling at the NIS campus in Patiala.

Lovlina Borgohain tries out farming

Indian boxer Lovlina Borgohain, meanwhile, has already secured her berth for the upcoming Games.

The pugilist was pictured without her boxing gloves for a change, trying her hands at farming with her family.

Best of the week from the Olympic Channel

There’s nothing like a dose of sporting nostalgia to lift fans’ spirits in these testing times and Indian fans on the Olympic Channel had the opportunity to relive some of the most iconic matches which shaped the careers of two of Indian sports’ golden girls – Sania Mirza and Saina Nehwal.

Head here for Sania’s best and click here for Saina’s career highlights.: an amazing trip down memory lane.