With the COVID-19 pandemic showing no signs of relenting, ace shooter Manu Bhaker has taken to driving tractors in the fields while pursuing hobbies such as painting and horse riding, breaking the monotony of training daily. With sporting activities yet to resume amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Bhaker continues to train at her home in Goria village, in Haryana's Jhajjar district.
The 18-year-old shooter is also looking to do different things to ensure she remains in perfect shape both physically and mentally. "It's been a long while since the pandemic started. I am doing painting and horse riding and has also driven a tractor in the fields," Bhaker told PTI during an interaction.
With the pandemic forcing a postponement of the Tokyo Olympics until next year and many other competitions also either pushed back or cancelled, it has become a challenge for athletes to stay focused. "I am training hard and staying focused. Yoga and meditation have a big role to play, especially during present difficult times caused by COVID-19. They help us to tackle mental and physical problems. When you do meditation, you get a lot of mental strength, you know how to stay focused," she added.
Asked about the possible challenges athletes might face when the situation normalises and sporting activities resume, Bhaker said it should not be much of a problem for her. "We have not had any competition in recent days. Camps too have been cancelled. But I am training in my hometown so as to stay focused. After lockdown, we will have some coaching camps etc., competitions will eventually start. I think once events start happening, we will adapt to that mode quickly. It's just that when we get into coaching camps, the competition mode will be on."
Bhaker, who secured an Olympic quota for India in the women's 10m air pistol event, enjoyed a successful season last year when she won five World Cup gold medals in individual and team events. Like many other athletes, she has been urging people to follow social distancing norms and stay at home as much as possible. "It is our collective responsibility that we must adhere to all the guidelines pertaining to COVID because when we remain safe, only then can we keep others safe too," she said.
Bhaker also had a message for youngsters struggling to deal with stress under the current circumstances. "I want to tell anyone who may feel any kind of stress these days that kindly share your problems with friends and family and talk about it. We should not burden our mind and spending quality time with family will help and one can also pursue hobbies," she said.