Asian Games: Hangzhou rains throw training schedule off gear
At least two training sessions of the Indian men's hockey team and one session of the women's hockey team have been completely washed away.
Over the past four days, intermittent rains in Hangzhou have brought much-needed relief from the stuffy heat that had troubled the locals for the preceding weeks. It has had a flip side though. At least two training sessions of the Indian men's hockey team and one session of the women's hockey team have been completely washed away. Add to it the abandoned women's cricket quarter-final between Malaysia and India in Zhejiang University of Technology Pingfeng Field, and we have a situation where all outdoor disciplines have had to bear the brunt of the steady downpour.
"While the rain itself was manageable, the risk of slipping and picking up injuries is real. We wanted to avoid that, and hence we had to cancel the sessions," a top Hockey India official who is in Hangzhou said on conditions of anonymity.
India, the top-ranked team in Asia, begin their campaign on Sunday with a group match against world No.66 Uzbekistan in Gongshu Canal Sports Park Stadium. The hockey gold medallists will get a direct qualification for the Paris Olympics.
"We must not forget that winning the Asian Games gives us a ticket to Paris, so there's no use taking such undue risks. We remained indoors and focussed on strength and conditioning," the official said. The women's hockey team will open their campaign against Singapore on September 27. The women's cricket team is scheduled to play its semi-final against Bangladesh on Sunday in a morning start and chances of another washout or a rain-curtailed game cannot be ruled out.
The Pingfeng Field, venue of the cricket matches, was submerged by overnight rains on Saturday. Local media quoted curator Chang Junjie as saying, "We don't have modern equipment to dry the ground as cricket is not a popular sport here. We dry the ground using ropes and cover the pitch using polyethylene or PVC. It's not easy to drain even the light showers," he said.
Anticipating inclement weather, the organisers of the opening ceremony made alternate arrangements at an indoor venue, said to accommodate upto 50,000 people. The current salubrious weather follows a spell of record-breaking heat in Hangzhou that had forced the authorities to use World War II bomb shelters as 'cooling centres.'