In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, as the sporting world has come to an unprecedented halt, the fate of athletes, especially those who are preparing for the Olympics, is hanging in balance. Athletes, months before their Olympic participation, engage in intricate training routines to condition their bodies for the elite event. However, the pandemic seems to have completely spoilt the crucial timeline for the athletes.
Moreover, athletes will have to hone the confidence to live with corona. All that is needed is to quell the fears while focusing on the routine with utmost hygiene. The games need to recommence with paramount caution.
To take a note, stupendous losses stare into the entire scenario of the sports industry. Apart from the athletes, TV sponsors, other commercial stakeholders are affected severely, and the losses might linger around even after the resumption of games. There is an acute possibility that post the restoration of gaming activities, the sponsorship dues will be affected too.
Nevertheless, athletes need to re-schedule their training, as fitness is the biggest challenge during social distancing because training is rather more efficacious on the field rather than in a secluded house.
The major difference in athletics of my time and today’s is that nowadays there is a boom in the exposure and the high-end facilities abound. The government is also more pro-active today through the grassroots activities and initiatives like “Khelo India”. Rural and urban areas are all connected with it. Though, for now, it solely depends on all the districts across the country as to how much they promote sports there respectively. Contrastingly, the situation was completely different in our time. We were able to get just two to three events including the state and national level championships.
As the president of the Bengaluru Urban District Athletics Association, I am promoting sports at the grassroots level. After taking up this assignment, my first goal was to promote sports at the school level. The condition of sports at this level has deteriorated tremendously. Apart from putting my efforts for its revival, I am paying attention to the district level, and the deliverables led to the District Championships being held every year. We’ve started the championships for age groups under 12, 14, 16 and 18.
We are getting a fair amount of positive response in open and school level championships. Besides, we have also organised a championship at the club level to find rare talents and this work is going on till date and hopefully beyond. I am happy that competitions like the School Olympics are being held and talent from our region has been able to participate at the national level too, the likes of which have never happened before.
Today people often ask me whether I would like to be called an athlete, social worker, educationist, or film actor. With humble pride, I tell them to let me be an athlete because all these opportunities have dawned upon me as an athlete. The need is to grasp the opportunity, and I make sure to take advantage of such occasions.
I have received much inspiration from ace athletes like P.T. Usha, though I have defeated her on the field a couple of times. I have savoured every moment related to athletics, and even today my appeal to athletes is to make the most of the opportunities available today.
The author is an Arjuna Awardee in athletics and has acted in films.