With India’s top athletes confined to their homes or stuck at Sports Authority of India centres due to the Covid-19 pandemic, SAI and its Target Olympics Podium Scheme Secretariat have started work to provide these athletes with the necessary equipment at their doorstep.
The equipment will be provided to athletes under TOPS scheme and those part of the core list of probables of the Tokyo Olympics.
“A total of 107 athletes (including para-athletes) were mapped for their requirements towards their training at home. The equipment requirements of all the athletes were collected and mapped according to SAI regional centres,” a SAI official was quoted as saying by Timesofindia.com.
“Around 43 requests were received from the athletes, half of which have been fulfilled with the help of SAI regional centres, state governments and NGOs,” the official added.
Top athletes like Bajrang Punia, shooter Saurabh Chaudhary and Manu Bhaker and boxers Lovlina Borgohain and Ashish Kumar have benefited from the initiative.
“I had requested for target papers and pellets and received those on Sunday,” Manu Bhaker who is training at the range her father constructed at their residence in Goria, Haryana, told the paper.
“SAI delivered those at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range in Delhi, and my father arranged for it to reach us. It took 3-4 days, but I have it now. It (pandemic) is a situation that none of us saw coming. So I thank SAI for helping me out with this so that I can continue to train,” she added.
Punia has been provided with a kabaddi mat which he uses to train. He feels it’s not ideal but is able to continue his training.
Pistol shooter Abhishek Verma is expecting delivery of his equipment after May 3 when the lockdown is expected to be eased in certain parts of India.
For athletes at various SAI centres like javelin-thrower Neeraj Chopra (NIS Patiala), weightlifter Mirabai Chanu (SAI Bengaluru) and the men’s and women’s hockey teams (SAI Bengaluru), sports ministry has asked for permission from Ministry of Home Affairs so that these athletes can resume their training at the facilities.