‘Instead of training, spending time painting, cooking’

Top athletes talk to HT about their experience of dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. This is Hima Das, the 20-year-old sprint star from Assam who became the first Indian athlete to win a gold medal in an international track event at the 2018 IAAF World U-20 Championships.
Hima Das(Twitter/Hima Das)
Hima Das(Twitter/Hima Das)
Updated on Apr 27, 2020 10:53 AM IST
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New Delhi | ByHima Das

Even if not for the current situation, I would have been at the Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports in Patiala anyway. Only, instead of training to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics—which has been postponed by a year—I am spending time painting, cooking and watching movies. I have been trying to reconnect with my friends and family. Also, sleeping has taken over majority of my time.

Injuries are a part and parcel of an athlete’s life. The lockdown has helped me recover completely from the back injury and take it easy. That said, I wake up early as usual to maintain my body clock. I have taken to yoga, some breathing exercises and stretching to stay healthy.

My diet has been affected due to the current scenario, but I am still trying to cook my own food and stay healthy. I have tried cooking various cuisines in this period.

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Since I cannot train outdoors, I am trying to keep myself fit indoors. I feel the country and its security comes first. If I defy the lockdown orders, I would be sending out a wrong message to the youth. I believe this too shall pass and we will all be free soon. I am using my social media platforms to reach out to people. I try and encourage people to maintain social distancing through Facebook and Twitter.

It will take me a month to get back to form before I start proper training. I am mentally prepared to work hard and follow all instructions of my coach as soon as the lockdown is lifted. The delay in Olympics could mean different things to different athletes. In my case, I feel lucky as I will get more time to prepare, but for athletes who were already in form, it can act as a major setback.

I respect the doctors, paramedical practitioners and police personnel who are helping us out. It is sad that just because 5-10 per cent of the population is violating curfew orders, the sacrifice of the remaining population is at stake. I appeal to people to stay indoors and maintain hygiene. My message to youngsters is: stay strong and stay positive.

My team and I are trying to identify daily wagers in Assam in order to help them. I have already pledged to donate my one month’s salary to Assam’s Covid-19 relief fund to combat the pandemic.

(As told to Poulami Kundu)

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Wednesday, May 25, 2022