Many athletes including Hima Das who have been forced to remain inside their hostel rooms at the National Institute of Sports, Patiala amid the coronavirus lockdown situation have now urged the sports ministry to allow them to train outdoors within the campus itself as there the campus premises have been closed for any outsider at the moment.
Radhakrishnan Nair, deputy chief national athletics coach, is in support of this request. He also told news agency PTI that the athletes are expecting a reply from the ministry within a couple of days.
“Hima and some other athletes have written to the Sports Minister that they be allowed to train one or two hours a day in small groups at different times so that they can also practice social distancing while training at the same time,” Nair told PTI from Patiala.
“They have written to Rijiju that they be sent home if no training is allowed. (But) going home is not feasible as the country is in a lockdown and Prime Minister has said everybody should be where they are.
“So, the ministry will not allow them to go back home but this outdoor training idea is feasible. We will know about it in a day or two,” he added.
Nair also stated that the entire coaching staff supports the athletes’ demand as there is no health threat if they are allowed to practice within the campus premises.
“We have 41 athletes at NIS and the track and field area is just 50m from the hostels. We can have small groups say eight athletes each and only one group will train at a time for one or two hours.
“All the athletes of a group will not do running or throwing together, one will run alone and finish it and then another will run after him or her. This way we can practice social distancing and be safe,” the top athletics coach said
Nair also admitted that if the athletes are restricted to their rooms for prolonged periods, they might have to start their training from scratch.
“Athletics is different. In many sports, the athletes utilise a small space but a runner or a thrower or a jumper covers a lot of distance and their cardiovascular system and physical strength has to be built continuously over a period of time,” Nair said.
“These athletes have been at NIS training almost non-stop from 2018 onwards, training three shifts every day and they cannot suddenly stop it,” he added.
“If they do that, they will have to start from the scratch again,” he further stated.