Swimming in irrigation tank and sparring with robots

Indian sportspersons have found it tough to practice their sport, but some creative minds have adopted the Indian jugaad approach in a controlled environment.
Indian badminton star Ashwini Ponnappa (File photo | PTI)
Indian badminton star Ashwini Ponnappa (File photo | PTI)

BENGALURU: The sporting world has come to a standstill and one scroll through social media gives a decent picture of the situation. Normally, players post their latest on-field pictures, but things have changed since the coronavirus outbreak. Several countries, including India, are in lockdown and athletes post images and videos of their workouts, household chores and of them spending time with family.
Indian sportspersons have found it tough to practice their sport, but some creative minds have adopted the Indian jugaad approach in a controlled environment. Take the case of SP Likith. After the lockdown was announced, swimming pools have also been shut, but the breaststroke specialist with help from his coach, also an organic farmer, has made some makeshift arrangements. The 21-year-old is swimming in an irrigation tank inside his coach’s farm near the Karnataka-Kerala border, which according to him was the ‘last resort’ to make a splash in the water.
“Yes, I have been swimming in a decent size water tank. It was my coach’s idea. Besides, there is a pond nearby too, where I go for a swim. There are some turtles and fishes, nothing dangerous. See, one has to understand that these were the only conditions that I could have trained myself in, at this hour because of the prevailing conditions. And this way, I am able to do my (swimming) strokes too,” Likith told this daily.
It is by no means an ideal practice session for a swimmer, especially one who is attempting to make it to the Olympics. But he is fortunate enough to have a coach, who has ensured his time does not go to waste. But, what about those sports, whose exponents require a sparring partner for practice?
Shuttler Ashwini Ponnappa is making the most of the HECS Balls, which she bought almost 18 months ago. The Red Bull athlete is using the wall at her residence as a sparring partner, with the shuttle replaced with the woollen HECS balls. Practising indoor with these balls is said to help improve hand-eye coordination, reflexes among others.
The nationwide lockdown and lack of space forced her to come up with this idea.  “Not having enough space, and of course wanting to be in touch with the feeling and flow of playing while staying home (made me come up with this idea). Normally, one would use a shuttle, but this helps, considering there isn’t too much space at home. I didn't think it would be super handy and be an important part of my training during the lockdown.”
On similar lines, table tennis star, G Sathiyan is practising with a remote-operated robot, which is his new partner at his home. Technology has also come to the aid of golfer Aadil Bedi, who is using gadgets, including trackman to track his practice at home, which has been converted into a mini-golf course. Golfers, including Udayan Made and Chikkarangappa S are making use of their respective premises. These players have posted such videos on social media too.
“It is super important for an athlete to get hands-on training in these times, where things are closed. Such kind of practice does not mean improving and increasing play levels. It is just to stay in touch with the game and to incorporate new things if possible. If you can just do that little bit of those necessary things to be in touch and keep yourself motivated, that is more than enough,” said Mane, who practices around four or five times a week for an hour or so.

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