CHENNAI: Virdhawal Khade says he will give himself a month before taking a final call on his swimming career. The Olympian is having a hard time dealing with the fact that the country's elite swimmers haven't been given permission to use swimming pools so he may take this call.
"Might have to consider retiring from swimming," he tweeted. "No news or communication of any sorts for being able to start swimming again. Wish swimming was treated the same as other sports in India. Almost three months since the swimmers in India entered the pool. If other competitive athletes can follow social distancing while training, competitive swimmers can do the same as well. I hope other Olympic swimming prospects don't consider retiring because of this."
Later on Sunday, Khade, when speaking to New Indian Express, explained the reason for the two tweets. "I spoke to Nihar sir (coach Nihar Ameen) and he has asked me to give it another point. So I will take a call after the next month."
Considering most athletes have returned to training, he says 'it's not fair' that swimmers have not been given permission to do the same. "We have asked the sports ministry but we haven't received any word yet. Nihal sir also spoke to the PPBA (the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy) where badminton and cricket training has resumed. So why hasn't swimming been restarted? It's just not fair."
Considering the Olympics is next year, the Maharashtra lad is itching to get his feet back in the water but doesn't hold out much hope. "The federation has already informally said that events may not happen for sometime. I think the swimming scene may be dead for (the next few months). I am having a tough time
dealing with the uncertainty."
The only elite Indian swimmer to have resumed training is Sajan Prakash, who stayed put in Phuket. The others, including Khade and Srihari Nataraj, have been forced to improvise (land-based exercises). But, as a swimmer, land-based exercises don't do much. The 28-year-old explains.
"Swimming is such a different sport because we can't do much without being allowed access to the pool. Athletes from other sports can still do some relatable training, something we cannot do."
If the status quo continues, Khade, who is currently fighting the pandemic as an officer of the Maharashtra government, may leave the sport behind. "There is no clarity at this point and I don't what to focus on. I have had a conversation with my parents as well... I will take a final decision within a month's time."