NEW DELHI: India is in the middle of Unlock 3, with citizens given more freedom and most restrictions lifted. However, the ban on water-based activities including swimming and rowing is still continuing and many athletes have been left despondent.
Rower Dattu Bhokanal has been quietly tending to his farm back home in a bid to remain physically and mentally fit. Hailing from the village of Talegaon Ruhi, in Maharashtra’s Nasik, the Bhokanal family’s subsistence is based on farming. Dattu’s father used to be a farmer and now his two younger brothers take care of that. This lockdown gave him a chance to rediscover his childhood.
“After long, I enjoyed the fruits of my labour. In my childhood, I used to help my father and this lockdown gave me a chance to reconnect. Also, toiling in the heat and humidity for almost six hours at a stretch does wonders for physical fitness, much better than what we usually do in gyms,” Dattu told this daily. The crops they sow include bajra, maize, nuts and soybean.
The 2018 Asian Games gold medallist in men’s quadruple sculls added that this period of inactivity was mentally taxing and farming helped alleviate some of those thoughts. He is heading to Pune and will undergo physical training at Army Sports Institute till water training is allowed. “I will work on physical fitness. We cannot help it until the government gives the green light.
No point in cribbing, we have to remain positive and keep ourselves fit and healthy.” There are no competitions in sight and with the national federation currently de-recognised, there are no national-level tournaments in the pipeline either. Physical training is the only way out. Dattu feels a year will be required to go back to his peak. Considering this loss of time, the 29-year-old is fighting an uphill battle to get back to the top and earn an Olympic quota.