CHENNAI: Alone and stranded in alien surroundings. That's becoming a recurring theme for the Indian boxing contingent. After Ashish Kumar, who was stuck in Spain recently, eight members of the national team including four pugilists had been forced to stay behind in Istanbul after they had tested positive for coronavirus. Now, after spending a week in isolation under strict protocols, seven have tested negative and are set for a homecoming. However, coach Dharmendra Singh Yadav faces more quarantine time after his latest test results returned positive on Tuesday.
The pugilists had tested positive after taking part in the International Istanbul Bosphorus Boxing Tournament, a meet that was held from March 15 to 21. A 14-member contingent, including 8 boxers and six support staff, had travelled for the exposure tour. Gaurav Solanki (57 kg), winner of bronze medal in the competition, was one of the boxers who tested positive. The rest of the contingent had returned on March 22.
"We had tested positive for the virus, but today everyone is cleared barring me. Those who have cleared are expected to leave either today (Tuesday) or tomorrow (Wednesday). I have to continue to remain in quarantine," Dharmendra told The New Indian Express. It is learnt that the seven members will reach India by Wednesday evening.
The eight had initially tested positive on March 20. And they had been re-tested on Monday after quarantine. Their latest test results were revealed on Tuesday. Needless to say, Dharmendra is still trying to stomach the reality. "I'm alright. But this uncertainty is mentally taxing. I'm not sure if I got tested properly. More than me, it is my family who are concerned. The fact that I'm so far away from home is a big worry for them."
The Olympian is hopeful that this period of uncertainty, with the help of the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) and authorities there, will end soon. "It is what it is. The BFI has been constantly in touch with all of us and have been keeping us informed. That has helped us cope."
In these unprecedented times, the boxers are still getting used to the new normal. Apart from forced seclusion, they have had to cope with language barrier as well as problems in food. The Arjuna awardee revealed that most of the boxers had been practising yoga in order to keep their minds sharp. "Food is fine but you still crave for Indian food sometimes. And there's bound to be a language barrier, and it will get harder when I'm alone."