Former Indian hockey team captain Viren Rasquinha on Tuesday said that maintaining fitness levels would be the biggest challenge for athletes when they return to training after the coronavirus-forced lockdown ends.

“Bringing back the fitness level would be the biggest challenge for athletes when they get back into training after the lockdown ends. The long break could have an impact on muscle memory, which for instance could lead to things like incorrect passes,” he said at a webinar presented by Sri Shakthi International School and Goalquiz.

Rasquinha also stressed on the importance of sports psychologists for athletes in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics, which has been postponed to next year.

“This long break from a usual high-intensity training would put off athletes from their strength and mental conditioning. Some of them would need sports psychologists to get them back in shape,” he said.

“The athletes need to find a rapport with their psychologists at different times and appointing a foreign psychologist would never be more than a one-off meeting,” he added.

Rasquinha, who is the CEO of Olympic Gold Quest, spoke about the Indian hockey team and said they struggled to perform in crucial matches. He also hoped India should target to reach the hockey semi-finals of the Tokyo Olympics.

He also said finding events to compete and sponsors for athletes would be difficult post the lockdown as corporates and other investors would look to consolidate themselves in coping with the losses due to the shutdown of their businesses.

(with PTI inputs)