Their training halted by the coronavirus-forced national lockdown, India's Olympic-bound boxers will be provided online classes by their coaches from Monday to ensure that aspects such as mental well-being and nutrition are taken care of.
Nine Indian boxers -- M C Mary Kom (51kg), Simranjit Kaur (60kg), Lovlina Borgohani (69kg), Pooja Rani (75kg), Amit Panghal (52kg), Manish Kaushik (63kg), Vikas Krishan (69kg), Ashish Kumar (75kg) and Satish Kumar (+91kg) -- have qualified for the Tokyo Games, postponed to 2021 due to the global pandemic which has caused thousands of deaths.
In a conference call with these boxers on Sunday, Boxing Federation of India (BFI) President Ajay Singh took stock of their preparations amid a national lockdown till April 14 to fight the pandemic. "This is a challenging time for all of us and is all the more a reason for us to take care of ourselves...stay fit, continue with the exercises as directed by the coaches and try to maintain your weights as much as possible," Singh told the boxers. "We will tide over this crisis soon and get back to the ring but staying motivated in the meantime is absolutely necessary," he added.
Mary Kom (Image: Mary Kom/Twitter)
Elaborating further on the 45-minute discussion, BFI's Executive Director R K Sacheti told PTI that the areas of concern are diet control and mental health. "They are at their homes right now where diet can go for a toss. So the idea behind these online classes starting tomorrow is to ensure that they are kept aware of their nutritional needs," he said.
Sacheti said India boxing's High Performance Director Santiago Nieva, who is now in Patiala after completing a 14-day self-isolation period in Delhi, will be conducting classes for men.
The classes for women will be conducted by their high performance director Rafaelle Bergamasco. "Santiago is the only boxing coach who is in Patiala right now. He will have access to the boxing hall where he will educate the boxers on technicalities. The idea is to keep them connected and aware," he said. "We hope things improve and the lockdown ends but we can't start from the scratch when that happens. We have to have something going so that when it ends, there is a seamless transtion," he added.
India booked an unprecedented nine Olympic slots at the Asian qualifiers in Jordan earlier this month. The national lockdown has put a halt to all sporting activities across the country. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused more than 20 deaths in India and infected over 900.