Summer Games or not, olympians know how to keep up the spirit

With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing several countries to declare lockdowns, major sporting events such as Wimbledon, Euro 2020, and 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been postponed

Olympians, Summer Games, 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Wimbledon, coronavirus, COVID-19, Lockdown
Olympic-bound hockey players are using buckets and drums to create their own mini goal posts in their backyards to continue their shooting practice. Photo: @OlympicChannel/Twitter

Even as athletes across the world are more than happy to be sharing some quality time with their families while staying at home amid the coronavirus pandemic, the fear of losing touch with their sport is on a high.

With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing several countries to declare lockdowns, major sporting events such as Wimbledon, Euro 2020, Indian Premier League, and 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been postponed.

But losing out on practice matches and training sessions ahead of such big tournaments is too much a loss, so our very own olympians have come out with unique ways of staying in form and keeping their spirits up until next year.

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From shadow boxing to creating an in-house gym to participating in virtual sports and involving their families in their workouts, these olympians have left no stone unturned in tackling the distress syndrome and proving that they won’t be left behind when it comes to proving this Olympics the best of the best will be taking the medals.

A swiss triathlete and mother of three, Nicola Spirig has found a way to improve not just her body balance but also accommodating family time into her workout routines.

American figure skater Jason Brown is encouraging everyone to stay home and stay active by sharing his regular work out videos in which he skips a rope while having his skates on.

In another unique attempt, while participating in a handstand challenge on social media, Simone Biles wears a pair of pants and removes it while performing the handstand. Well, her being best of the best no one could have done it better.

If you thought kids could be a great companion while working out and can replace weights from the gym, 200m double world champion sprinter Dafne Schippers has a helper with four paws.

While other athletes can do their basic training at home in their lawns or in-house gymnasiums, swimmers have been the worst-hit by this pandemic with pools being completely out of bounds to reach.

However, olympians such as Caeleb Dressel and Ariarne Titmus are indulging in dry swimming and balcony rowing to make up for their lost time in water.

Facing the pandemic blow are also athletes performing in team and contact sports such as boxing, wrestling, basketball, and hockey. But with several countries, including India opening stadiums and sports complexes, Olympic-bound athletes will now resume training a phase-wise manner.

Related news: Olympic-bound track and field athletes to start outdoor training on May 25

In India, complexes such as the Sports Authority of India’s training centres will be following strict social distancing norms while continuously disinfecting the gears and athletes carrying their own towels and water bottles. No locker rooms or changing rooms will be open for use.

For some extreme sports in which visualisation becomes the key, virtual resources are playing a crucial role.

The Challenge of Stars is one such visual cycling race in which athletes compete against each other on difficult visual terrains to stay in practice via some software and technical support being provided to them while staying at home.

Other hockey players are using buckets and drums to create their own mini goal posts in their backyards to continue their shooting practice.

As for shooters and players of other extreme sports, visual shooting championships are being conducted, the video of which will be then sent to their respective national associations to keep track of their aiming practice.

Meanwhile, with the Olympics put off and all major sports shut, athletes around the globe are battling mental stress as they face an uncertain present and a blurry future.

Mental conditioning experts and sports psychologists have changed their methods, encouraging sportspersons to avoid developing a killer instinct and creating a tunnel vision into the future.

Noida-based Nanaki J Chadha, a sports psychologist in an interview with Hindustan Times, said that the number of athletes consulting her has gone up since the lockdown began in late March, especially players who have qualified for the Olympics.

Related news: Olympians face uncertainty with Tokyo Games delay over COVID-19

She said that in India, not enough attention is given to mental well-being which is making her see mood-swings and frustration of not being able to compete each day building up among sportspersons.

While dealing with depression and mental stress is a challenge, another major obstacle for some olympians is age.

Even as youngsters in many sports are happy to be getting some time to prepare themselves for the upcoming challenge, legends such as Roger Federer and Serena Williams felt devastated by the news of Wimbledon being cancelled.

The cancellation of Wimbledon could mean multiple champions have played at the All England Club for the final time. Federer and Serena will be nearly 40 by the time of the 2021 championships and Venus will be 41.

“More than anything, the postponement of the Olympics pushes back what life was going to offer,” said Cat Osterman, who turned 37 last month and is the oldest player on the U.S. softball team.

U.S. swimmer Allison Schmitt is someone else who might need to reconsider her plans.

Schmitt, who owns eight medals, including four golds, has dealt with depression and left her sport for two years after the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. But she returned to training under coach Bob Bowman in hopes of making her fourth Olympic team this year. She’ll turn 30 in June and told the Associated Press that it’s too soon to make a definitive choice.

Related news: Sports post-COVID-19: Top Indian stars foresee new normal

However, there are some athletes who will benefit from this delay.

Basketball stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving would be happy to seal this time for recovering from their injuries, so long as the rescheduling doesn’t conflict with the NBA season, as do such reigning Olympic champions as South African 400-meter runner Wayde van Niekerk and British tennis player Andy Murray.

For athletes this coronavirus pandemic is a testing phase more than just having time to spend with their families and staying motivated is all they have for now.

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