‘Enjoying training again with childhood coach’: Amit Panghal

With all sporting events suspended, and most training centres and national camps shut, what are athletes doing with their forced leisure time? Everyday a top athlete will talk about her or his experience of dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. This is Amit Panghal, the silver medallist from the 2019 World Championships who sealed his Tokyo Olympics berth by reaching the semi-finals of the Asian Olympic Qualifiers earlier this month.
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON APR 23, 2020 02:27 PM IST
Amit Panglah with family(HT Photo)

Nobody thought that we will face a situation where all of us have to be completely indoors. I am now back home in my village Myna, near Rohtak.

In the last two years, Indian boxers have given their all to win Tokyo Olympics berths. We followed a hectic schedule of training in national camps and travelled abroad for exposure trips and competitions to test our preparedness. It was due to this hard work that Indian boxers won as many as nine Olympic quota places from the Asian qualifiers in Jordan, Amman.

We were fortunate that our qualifiers ended (March 11) just when the situation was getting worse around the world, with two other qualifiers (Pan American and European) being postponed.

This the longest break that I have had in the last two years. I am doing my best to workout and maintain my fitness. I get a schedule from our chief coach Santiago Nieva everyday and work accordingly. I wake up at 8am and follow the schedule.

There is an indoor hall at Maharshi Dayanand University in Rohtak—barely 5km from my house—that I use for training. The university is closed but they have allowed me to use their facility. There is no one to disturb me and I can do my routine in isolation. My childhood coach Anil Dhanker is overseeing my training. I also do some exercises in the open in my village; it reminds me of my childhood days when I started boxing under Dhanker sir.

Ever since I went to the national camp I have not been able to train much under him. I wanted my coach to be with me in the camp but that was not possible. So, I am using this opportunity to work again with the coach who taught me my basics, and I am enjoying every bit of it.

I train for close to five hours spread across two sessions in the morning and evening, all of it being indoor. I stretch for 30 minutes, jog and warm up, then do pads, punching bag and finally abdominal exercises and relaxation.

There is also a gymnasium hall in the university where I do my weights training. I get instructions regarding how may sets and reps I have to do. I make a video of it and send it back to our chief coach. I am not sparring, which, in any case, is not needed now. I have just come back from training and competition, so this is more of a transitional period.

We were anyway scheduled to take a break after the Olympic qualifiers, and it might get extended now with this pandemic. There was no competition scheduled between the qualifiers and the Olympics, but we would have gone for training in the US and Italy, which is not happening now.

Yes, it will be huge challenge for every athlete to prepare for the Olympics (postponed to next year). But, I am fully motivated. Winning an Olympic quota is big and the goal is to win a medal for the country. If the Olympics do not happen, then dreams will be crushed but at the moment I am not thinking about it. I am doing what I can control.

The best part about staying at home is getting to eat my mother’s food. But I am maintaining good eating habits as well as my sleep pattern.

As told to Avishek Roy

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