CHENNAI: Ever since the Asian Championships scheduled in Abu Dhabi got postponed and she returned to India in March, India sailor Harshita Tomar, the 2018 Asian Games bronze medallist, had been busy attending online classes and trying to gain weight in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.
The rising number of coronavirus cases forced the authorities to reimpose a 10-day intense lockdown in the city in the last week of July.
This was when Harshita's father, Devendra Singh Tomar, decided to move the family to his ancestral village in the adjoining district of Hoshangabad.
"I own around 11 acres of land in Raisalpur village. Due to the lockdown, Harshita was confined to home in Bhopal for more than four months. The move to the village was aimed at lifting her mood and giving her an opportunity to go out and do things without any restrictions," Devendra told this daily.
The Abu Dhabi championships is an Olympic qualifying event. The top-two finishers other than the already qualified nations will be assured of Olympic berths in the laser radial class.
"We reached there in February but had to rush back due to the pandemic. It was heartbreaking and what followed next was frustrating as I could not go out and train. So when my father asked me to accompany him to the village, I was more than happy," the 18-year-old said.
It has turned out to be an enriching experience for the sailor as she has learnt about paddy cultivation and fish farming. "I learnt about transplantation of paddy seedlings to the field, benefits of organic fertilizers and later did a few things by myself like planting saplings and watering them. Basically, I work under the guidance of my father and labourers in the field," informed Harshita.
While farming is an integral part of her routine in the village, her favourite ritual is to feed fish. "My father also does fish farming in a pond located in the field. My responsibility is to feed the fish twice a day," she informed.
Her sojourn will end on Tuesday when she will head back to the state capital to resume training.
"The training for select athletes will start at the National Sailing School from August 15. As far as sailing is concerned, around eight sailors will start training," she added.
Harshita focussed a lot on fitness during the lockdown and believes this will keep her in good stead when the training resumes. "I was underweight for my boat (laser radial class). I was around 47kg when I won the Asiad medal in the open laser 4.7 category. I need to be 60-plus for the new boat. I had already put on around seven kg and hope to gain six kg more. This will help me in manoeuvring my boat effectively."