For athletes all primed for the Olympics, it’s a test to reset and peak all over again. But it’s the same for their opponents too. And champions find a way.
Dressed up and nowhere to go. That’s the fate of Olympians after the Tokyo Games were postponed due to coronavirus. Any other time, the delay would have caused frustration among athletes. But such is the risk of Covid-19, that most sportspeople have felt relief, along with some understandable disappointment, over the fate of Tokyo 2020.
It is true that the Olympics are a quadrennial event, and a delay messes up four years of planning and effort. But life and health come first, former and current athletes concur.
Also, as Abhinav Bindra, India’s greatest individual Olympian, says, an athlete has to be adaptable in the best of times, let alone during a global crisis. If it means recalibrating for the Olympics, so be it. At Beijing 2008, where Bindra became the first Indian to win an individual gold, the sightscreen of his gun was allegedly tampered with when he took a bathroom break. But Bindra held his nerve.
And with the weight of a nation’s expectations on him, he pierced a target as small as a fish eye from nearly 32 feet.
“Performing at the highest level requires adaptability,” Bindra, 37 said and added”. “At some point, however well you prepare, there will be something that will come in the way and will require you to react to situations. Sport does not always go along to script. The athlete population is also the most resilient population I have come across. So yes, this is a challenge, but the world is facing it. Sport is secondary right now. The important thing is to take care of your health, of those around you. And when the dust settles, athletes can get back to training and preparing.”
A year-long wait
Badminton star PV Sindhu, who won a silver medal in the Rio Games, would have felt a pang of disappointment about Tokyo. It was supposed to be her big chance to get gold. But she is only 25 and has time on her side, especially as the postponement is by just a year, for now.
(To be continued)