Their training has finally resumed after a five-month hiatus and India's Olympic hopeful archers said they are looking to get back their lost momentum gradually with focus firmly on fitness right now. Sporting facilities across the country were shut in March due to the national lockdown imposed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, severely hampering Indian athletes' preparations for the Tokyo Olympic, postponed by a year to 2021.
But training resumed gradually from August with men's and women's recurve archers returning to the Pune's Army Sports Institute (ASI) on August 25. "It was difficult for the first couple of days after returning to training as we were training very intensely in March prior to the lockdown being imposed. This was the longest gap between training that I have ever had," said Atanu Das, who won the Arjuna Award earlier this year.
The men's recurve team and Deepika Kumari have earned quota spots for the Tokyo Olympics. The archers, in a statement issued by the Sports Authority of India (SAI), said they are happy with the safety protocols and other preventive measures put in place at ASI to control the spread of the deadly virus. "The arrangements here are very good. It's very clean and food arrangements are good. We are being looked after very well here," former world no.1 women's recurve archer Deepika Kumari said.
The training of archers is in initial phase as some of them are still coming out of their quarantine, and coach Majhi Sawaiyan said general fitness is a priority at the moment. "Players are gradually coming out of quarantine. We are working on general fitness with emphasis on strength and endurance. To work on the mental aspect, the athletes are doing yoga and meditation," he said. The Indian women's recurve team will get a final opportunity to qualify for the Olympics at the World Qualification Tournament scheduled to be held next year.