IOA has prepared a vision document to resume sport in India, after athletes and their training took a hit due to the Covid-19 pandemic. White Paper has suggestions from over 450 respondents including athletes.
All sporting activity came to a grinding halt in mid-March 2020 just ahead of the announcement of the nation-wide lockdown. Elite athletes, development athletes, kids with dreams of representing India in future, sports broadcasters, commercial sponsors, everyone is reeling in some way or other due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
While some activity resumed in the final week of May 2020, The challenge will be to bring sport back in its fullest form, with the best precautionary and safety measures in place for all stakeholders.
The purpose of creating the White Paper as per IOA is to draw up a blueprint for the resumption of competitive sport at all levels and see if there are answers for some questions like:
• How and when should team sport resume in the country?
• How and when should water sport resume in the country?
• How and when should contact sport resume in the country?
Some Key questions were asked of the stakeholders as well:
• When would it be safe to resume training and how?
• What changes do you foresee in Sport when it resumes?
• When would be it safe to resume competition?
• What precautions need to be taken when resuming sport?
• Do you prefer fans in-Stadia when competitive sport resumes?
Key stakeholders approached were:
• High-Performance Support Personnel
• Match officials
• Sports Administrators
Some Key Findings
Majority believes training should resume in August or later, with a minor percentage suggesting India should wait till a vaccine is available for Covid-19.
Nearly everyone acknowledged that training at home or hostel rooms is sufficient to only to maintain a certain level of fitness and could not be sport-specific training, especially the kind needed for elite athletes
It has been suggested that sanitisation of stadiums and venues should be handed over to local municipal authorities.
Social distancing is a must, especially in common use areas like dining hall, gymnasium, field of play etc. to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread. NSFs have directed athletes to avoid contact with others, including hand-shakes, high-fives and hugs, during training and at other times.
There is an expectation among the sports community that some form of competition would be possible in or after September. However, it would depend on Government guidelines. Some National Sports Federations are in the process of drawing up schedules in the run-up to the Olympic Games in Tokyo in July 2021.
On spectators in stadiums - answers ranged from outright yes to a vehement no, with some suggesting restrictions on the number of people allowed into stadia.
Some Suggestions that have been taken into account by IOA:
Covid-19 tests must be an ongoing process
Athletes must be educated on essential hygiene
Need to ensure greater knowledge about circumstances of transmission in competitive and community sport.
Report signs of sickness immediately
For Media and broadcasters
Minimum broadcast crew will be allowed on field of play
Only digital interactions with players
Maintain personal hygiene and social distancing norms
Some federations were asked about when training and competitions could resume in some particular sports?
Archery - Mid- or end of July, 2020
Athletics - As soon as possible for Tokyo Probables
Boxing - Ready but waiting for all approvals from government and sports ministry
Hockey - Training can start, international competition possible only after vaccine.
Shooting - Olympic Core Group training from July 2020 onwards
All athletes before starting national camps or training will have to prove they are COVID-19 negative. Athletes will have to wait for international exposure as it will depend on when India and other countries open their borders and this cannot be predicted with any certainty.
National Anti doping agency (NADA) has come up with a mobile app to benefit the athletes and keep them updated with all the dope testing mechanisms at a click of a button.
NADA, in its bid to keep up with changing times due to COVID-19 pandemic, has launched the NADA India app to help athletes and make them more self-reliant as far as doping and dope tests mechanisms are concerned.
The app, launched by Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, will provide the anti-doping rules, list of prohibited substances and even test results provided directly to the concerned athlete. NADA head Navin Agarwal believes this innovation will make lives easier for all athletes registered in the NADA pool.
“The app will give them information that they may need with regard to any anti-doping issue. The app will reflect dope results of the athletes on the app, available directly to the athletes. The athletes will also be able to update their whereabouts on the mobile app," said Agarwal.
Athletes registered in the NADAs testing pools will be able to access all information from the app. “This app is aimed at making athletes more self-dependent time a large extent. The names of medicines will also be there, to reduce the inadvertent intake of banned substances by athletes.” he added.
NADA had earlier maintained they are not rushing into testing athletes due to the disruptions caused by Covid-19 pandemic and even now the progress will be slow and steady keeping in mind the protocols to fight Covid-19 and strict adherence to social distancing norms.
Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju too lauded the efforts made by NADA to develop this app with the sole aim of helping athletes move forward in their sporting disciplines without worrying about the administrative aspect of dope testing mechanisms.
नई दिल्ली, जागरण संवाददाता। हाई कोर्ट के आदेश की अवहेलना कर 54 राष्ट्रीय खेल फेडरेशन (एनएसएफ) को वर्ष 2020 के लिए प्रोविजनल वार्षिक मान्यता 30 सितंबर 2020 तब बढ़ाने के खिलाफ दाखिल आवेदन पर दिल्ली हाई कोर्ट ने कड़ा रुख जताया है। न्यायमूर्ति हिमा कोहली व न्यायमूर्ति नज्मी वजीरी की पीठ ने कहा कि खेल एवं विकास मंत्रलय ने सात फरवरी को दिए गए अदालत के निर्देशों की अवहेलना करते हुए वार्षिक मान्यता दी, जोकि अदालत की अवमानना है।
अधिवक्ता राहुल मेहरा के आवेदन पर सुनवाई करते हुए कोहली और वजीरी वाली पीठ ने मंत्रालय को निर्देश दिया है कि वे सभी 54 एनएसएफ को दो दिन के अंदर नोटिस जारी करें कि 30 सितंबर तक के लिए मान्यता बढ़ाने के फैसले को वापस लिया जाता है। इस तरह 54 NSF की मान्यता बढ़ाने के फैसले पर हाई कोर्ट ने रोक लगा दी है।
सुनवाई के दौरान याचिकाकर्ता राहुल मेहरा ने पीठ को बताया कि चार मई को दाखिल शपथ पत्र में जहां मंत्रालय ने 54 फेडरेशन की प्रोविजनल मान्यता को 30 सितंबर तक के लिए बढ़ाने की बात की थी। वहीं, 16 जून को उन्होंने शपथ पत्र दाखिल करके कहा कि उन्होंने गैर मान्यता प्राप्त इंडियन गोल्फ यूनियन, स्कूल गेम्स फेडरेशन ऑफ इंडिया और रोईंग फेडरेशन ऑफ इंडिया को मान्यता दे दी है।
मैड्रिड, एपी। बार्सिलोना ने एथलेटिक बिलबाओ पर 1-0 की संघर्षपूर्ण जीत से स्पेनिश फुटबॉल लीग ला लीगा में फिर शीर्ष स्थान पर पहुंचकर अपने कड़े प्रतिद्वंद्वी रीयल मैड्रिड पर दबाव बना दिया है। ला लीगा की अंकतालिका में लगातार उठापटक देखी जा रही है। कभी बार्सिलोना तो कभी रीयल मैड्रिड तो कभी कोई और टीम अंकतालिका में शीर्ष पर पहुंच जाती है, क्योंकि टीम के अंकों में ज्यादा फर्क नहीं है।
इवान रेकिटिच के दूसरे हाफ में किए गए विजयी गोल से बार्सिलोना ने रीयल मैड्रिड के मालोर्का के खिलाफ होने वाले मैच से पहले शीर्ष स्थान हासिल किया। बार्सिलोना को इस जीत के लिए हालांकि संघर्ष करना पड़ा, लेकिन रेकिटिच का 71वां मिनट में किया गया गोल उसे तीन अंक दिलाने के लिए पर्याप्त साबित हुआ। इस जीत से बार्सलिोना के 31 मैचों में 68 अंक हो गए हैं जबकि रीयल मैड्रिड के 30 मैचों में 65 अंक हैं।
33 के हुए लियोन मेसी
दिग्गज फुटबॉलरों में से एक अर्जेटीना के लियोन मेसी बुधवार को 33 वर्ष के हो गए। मेसी ने सेंट्रल अर्जेटीना में बचपन बिताया जिसके बाद 13 साल की उम्र में वह स्पेन चले गए और बार्सलिोना से जुड़ गए। 2004 में 17 साल की उम्र में मेसी ने प्रतियोगिता में पदार्पण किया। 22 साल की उम्र में उन्होंने पहली बार बैलोन डी ओर ट्रॉफी जीती। मेसी के नाम ला लीगा में सर्वाधिक 440 गोल का रिकॉर्ड है। इसके अलावा ला लीगा इतिहास में सर्वाधिक 36 बार हैटिक लगाई हैं।
मेसी का पेशेवर करियर बार्सिलोना से ही जुड़ा रहा है और उन्होंने क्लब रिकॉर्ड 34 ट्रॉफी जीतीं जिसमें 10 ला लीगा ट्रॉफी शामिल हैं। इसके अलावा यूएफा चैंपियंस लीग के चार खिताब जीते। दिग्गज मेसी ने रिकॉर्ड छह बैलोन डी ओर ट्रॉफी जीती हैं जो इसके इतिहास में सर्वाधिक हैं। उन्होंने सबसे पहले 2009 में यह प्रतिष्ठित ट्रॉफी जीती जिसके बाद 2012 तक लगातार चार बार ट्रॉफी अपने नाम की। उन्होंने 2015 और 2019 में भी ट्रॉफी जीती। मेसी ने 10 ला लीगा ट्रॉफी, चार बार यूएफा चैंपियंस लीग खिताब और छह बार कोपा डेल रे ट्रॉफी जीती हैं।
Everyone knows Jwala Gutta loves to fire the opening salvo. It comes entirely from her playing credo: “You can’t be a good doubles player if you can’t serve well.” The first shot sets the tone.
After she split with Shruthi Kurien at the start of 2009, Jwala was scouting around for potential partners to play with. Her mixed doubles career with V Diju was going swimmingly well as they’d beaten the Korean World No. 1s that year and entered the Top 10.
But before she zeroed in on Ashwini Ponnappa, she sprung a thunderbolt on her mother by almost sending the daughter-mother entry for the Nationals that year. Her mother ticked the only box that Jwala sniffed around for, when deciding partners: “I didn’t really have to think a lot. Mom’s serve was very good.” Jwala knew she could mop up the rest.
This confidence steered Jwala and Ashwini, and in turn India, towards their first-ever doubles World Championship medal for badminton in 2011 at Wembley in London, and kicked off a decade in which singles stars PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal would follow the trailblazing duo onto the Worlds podiums every single Championship year. Jwala-Ashwini’s was the first medal since Prakash Padukone won in the 1980s.
“When I decided to play with Ashwini, she wasn’t even a Top 4 in India. I just saw in her that no fear of losing, and knew I could mentor her,” Jwala says.
Doubles was Jwala’s battlefield where she needed only an ally. “I really could combine well with anyone – Diju of course, Chetan, Vidyadhar, Gopi also, Shruthi,” she explains. “Only this – the partner should be able to serve properly.”
So when a friend and batchmate pointed out the whiplashing Ashwini to her at the nationals, Jwala wasn’t distracted by what was Ashwini’s very-noticeable big booming smash. “My friend told me – she smashes really hard. I immediately asked, but how’s her serve. I don’t care about the smash as long as it’s hit at the right time and right place. I’m not bothered by how hard she hits. I watched her at the start of the rally – her serve was fine. She was still young.” The pair was good to go.
More than callow, Ashwini – a fearless, formidable, free-spirited hitter – wasn’t pickled in the ways of doubles, where plenty of mental disintegration gets induced.
“At the start of the rally, that’s where you put pressure on the opponents. Top pairs understand the importance of a good serve that opponents struggle to return. I always got my points when I served well,” Jwala says.
Those incisive all-noticing eyes analysed the scene before her like a computer processor when Jwala served.
“I was observant even as a junior. Where is the receiver’s foot facing? How’s he holding the racquet? Which weakness must I attack….” there were a dozen cues that Jwala would factor in when she set out to serve.
Ashwini reckons they combined seamlessly and beyond the obvious advantage of being a left-right combo.
“She had a great serve. And I focused on what I had to do,” Ashwini says. A part of the reassurance that Ashwini brought to the court for Jwala came from Ashwini’s unalloyed conviction in her own smash. Polite and always soft-spoken, Ashwini though takes blazing pride in her smashing where the hissing thwack could well be pronounced as “but of course”.
The bite to the smash comes from Ashwini’s total rejection of breaking it down. The Ashwini smash is just one Macbethian uninterrupted striking down of the axe in one fell swoop.
At the start of this decade, the young and agile Ashwini could rain down 15-20 smashes one after another. She didn’t just eschew nuance in that shot – she chewed and spat out violently any notions of prettying up her whippy welt.
“I just know one smash – that’s my smash,” she says with rare curtness, if one asks her to dissect her favourite flogging action with a badminton racquet. “There’s very little touches there,” she says shredding all pretensions to artistry. “It’s like a hockey whack,” the proud Coorgi raises the violence meter, “it’s a lot about power and just doing it. No thinking. When I’m smashing well, I’m just flying on court.” It’s never not good – the Ashwini smash.
“I’m not apprehensive about what’ll happen after I smash. I’m not scared of losing.”
Out of this fiery pair of prides – Jwala: unquestionable of her serve and Ashwini: unrepentant of her smash – was forged India’s first and hitherto only doubles medal in the World Championship.
But first came the dazzling of Delhi.
Jwala Gutta and Ashwini paired for the first time together in 2009. (Source: PTI)
When they got together in 2009, India was racing towards hosting of the 2010 Commonwealth Games, an event that singlehandedly provided the impetus to unearth and groom a bunch of medallists across sports.
The budgeting had changed immediately after the 2006 bronze at the Melbourne CWG, four years after India lost the team bronze in Manchester. “Melbourne was our first mixed team medal. It put us in the ‘A’ list of priority sports. Exposure trips increased from 2008-9 to prepare for the CWG. Dedicated doubles training started and I was on the court nearly 8-9 hours a day morning and evening,” Jwala recalls.
In came the Indonesian Master Shifu, Indonesian Atik Jauhari, who smiled compulsively and cracked the whip in training with even more gnashing teeth. “He brought in positivity and believed in me,” Jwala says.
Her frequent disagreements with coach Pullela Gopichand over how much to train and how much to compete (an intractable problem that persists with players to this day), had unsettled her from the task at hand though she and Diju emerged as the cleverest pairing on the circuit in 2009 when they made the year-end Super Series Finals. “We’d won Chinese Taipei and Bitburger. But the whole perception changed after CWG for badminton and I was happy to be part of it,” she says.
Though it started with a bout of sneezing and allergy as Delhi’s dust and heat got to her that October, and she was bed-ridden. But the Commonwealth Games had been a jet booster to many Indian athletes, who revelled in being prioritised and taken care of for the first time ever.
“For the first time, I’d play in front of my family because they couldn’t afford to travel. I really enjoyed playing on home turf in front of my parents,” Jwala remembers. The belief translated into India’s 33rd gold that helped the hosts level with England on the medal tally.
Jwala had played on all 12 days without a break in front of a packed Siri Fort. “You could hardly hear the shuttle, I told Ashwini ‘let’s just focus on the next point’.”
Like her serve, Jwala tends to look ahead only at Round 1 of any tournament. No muddling the head with conjectures of a semi-final. “That’s a stupid way of looking at tournaments. Always only focus on the next point,” she bosses. Jwala also always fronted the media even when she lost, never disappearing from the backdoor and remained aggressive and animated on and off the court.
The surge took the Indian pair past the Malaysian top team and then she combined with Diju to secure India’s first win over the top English pairing which had Nathan Robertson, till then unsurmountable.
She addresses a long-pending allegation over her questionable fitness – as combatively as ever. “If I wasn’t fit, I wouldn’t have dominated. Yes, I don’t have the athletic body type, but you don’t have to look muscular to be able to hit,” roars the southpaw. “People said I was a slow mover. But i was really tall. I didn’t need to scramble!” she says.
Accustomed to questions being thrown at her because both Diju and a yet inexperienced Ashwini remained soft-spoken, Jwala gleefully stabbed at questions while speaking her mind unfettered.
The gentleness and bottomless patience she reserved for the only one who she believed deserved it: her younger partner Ashwini.
“Not just on court, I decided to take her along through the whole media-training-competing routine. I never referred to any situation as ‘you’ or ‘me’. It was ;us’” always. I’d patiently correct her strokes by telling her not to take stress and be fearless always,” Jwala remembers.
Ashwini was soaking it all up like a sponge. “The programme was structured with coach Atik and specialised coaching. And the 2010 win was a miracle booster. It was our biggest win as a pair,” Ashwini says.
Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa at a felicitation program of Badminton 45 Silver Jubilee at Bombay Gymkhana (Express photo by Prashant Nadkar)
It was the beginning of Ashwini learning a very important drill from Jwala, something that suited her own unhassled temperament. “I remember starting this at the Sudirman Cup where I could really switch on and switch off. We’d do well in a match and relax,” she recalls of the thriller against the Thais that the Indians won 21-19 in the third. Indian doubles was taking its infant steps and Ashwini remembers learning something as basic as where to stand on court and what worked and what didn’t. In the lead-up to the Korean Open that year, Jwala-Ashwini had eked out a 22-20 in the decider against Hong Kong and another confidence-enhancing three-game win against the Japanese.
London was only the pair’s second World Championship together and they’d strung up some good results at the French Open in the run-up. Her trainer Declan had travelled that year and Ashwini recalls a rare time when playing well coincided with having fun. “Sometimes you don’t enjoy the journey and the wins and losses don’t matter. But I remember being able to switch off the pressure and just having a lot of fun playing that one. I loved being in the stadium,” she says of a happier time.
Declan not only put her mind at ease about recovery but also pointed out something that the painfully shy woman shrugged off like a jumper.
“Declan told me I should not look down on the floor and always walk with chin up and head high. I remember doing it all consciously and how it helped my confidence and I walked tall,” Ashwini remembers.
The fidgety nervousness that comes with being impatient on court and in finishing points (botching them) was left behind at home, as Ashwini distinctly recalls walking slowly and calmly on court and not scurrying about cluelessly.
The Indians started against the Americans where Wembley’s unique atmosphere had to be internalised. “It’s a different atmosphere at Wembley because the crowd there is always blackened out so the spotlight is on the shuttle. Courts tend to appear brighter and you have to adjust to the visibility,” Jwala recalls. Indians would win 9, 18 against the Americans.
Unseeded and running into World No. 2 was familiar as was being pipped in the opener 21-19 – the result against Room Lok Yan and Tse Ying Suet, wasn’t. “We were prepared because their serves weren’t as good though they were good at defence,” Jwala sensed her opportunity to pounce. “Even after losing the first game, I was confident.” They won 19-21, 21-10, 21-17.
Up next were the Indonesians who seemed to have taken the Indians lightly and combined that with their own iffy confidence levels. Jwala is quick to acknowledge that Vita Marissa is a bit of a mixed doubles legend, but on the brink of her retirement and a reputation to guard, the Indonesian was under pressure.
It wouldn’t have helped her that Jwala had x-rayed her defence down: “On the brink of retirement, Vita wasn’t a great mover. She could smash hard but couldn’t hit as many times. Tiring her out was the plan.”
Feeding her drops bringing her to the net, the weakening limbs and the under-confidence saw Jwala preying on her tiredness. And while Ashwini peppered her from the back with smashes, Jwala would use the big boomer to soften her for a further bag of deceptions: her wicked serve.
The garden variety backhand serves in doubles don’t offer much variety for the Serve Queen. “Vita not being confident enough to return my serve made me even more adventurous.
“Even the low serves have variety. There are 5-6 variations even to that width so you keep opponents guessing,” Jwala says with glee of a web she weaves at the outset that eclipses the rest of the rally. Her antennae were buzzing even as Ashwini had to stay in front because the shuttle was coming back very fast.
Typically, Jwala takes 2-3 rallies to get a complete read on her opponent: “I focus on movements. I just remember how I lost my last point. If I win a point, I try to win on the same strategy. But you can’t think too much or brood over a lost point.”
Receiver’s styles got 3D imprinted on her mind, and her superior anticipation that afforded just 2-3 chances even when she played singles, helped her give clear succinct serving instructions to Ashwini. The Indian duo chipped away at the 17-21 first set reversal for a 17-21, 21-10, 21-17 win.
She remembers feeling a shiver of excitement on the podium thinking of her parents. “I showed emotion that day though after reaching semis, where we were assured of the medal, we did nothing unusual. Same things – though we might have eaten at a Chinese restaurant.” After the semis against the Chinese including the legend Zhao Yunlei was lost – 14, 16, it struck her that something historic had been achieved by the really unheralded pairing.
Ashwini remembers a happy time. “We dealt with pressure well against the Indonesians and knew we had created history because only Prakash Sir had a Worlds medal before us from India. Always being compared to singles used to be maddening,” she laughs.
She doesn’t remember any rancour associated with the Worlds medal. “We were in a good space. We had good meals, we laughed a lot,” she says.
Reactions to Jwala-Ashwini’s World medal were underwhelming. (Express Photo by Vasant Prabhu)
Reactions in India were underwhelming – the duo reckon out of ignorance. “There was no reception and now I think that was strange. Later, the way Sindhu was received was wow. Ours was no big deal for anyone. There were no questions about why doubles wasn’t doing well, so no celebration of when we did well either,” she says.
Ashwini says the bronze ought to be put into perspective. “Maybe, doubles was not as decorated as singles. But ours was historic, right? The first one for women. Kids can look up to us. If you’re comparing, we had little support, no endorsements. But not being received when we came back hurt a little.”
Doubles itself changed a lot – faster and tougher to get points. “We worked hard, nobody can fault us on effort. We were smart on court. We played quite often to prove ourselves in what weren’t the easiest of times,” she says.
It was when her support system – parents, brother, then boyfriend-now husband huddled around her. “Getting into the zone was tough playing doubles back then. We would get bogged down with one loss. And people would be questioning us. I’m grateful my family understood what I was going through,” she says. One of the reasons the medal sits in her parents’ home.
Finding an oasis of good form, a good vibe and success amidst the storm became doubly challenging when London itself threw up one giant tantrum. “There were riots raging in London that time. It used to be an adventure just going to the stadium. They started after we landed. We would go under shuttered restaurants for our meals. We even got out once through the backdoor. Having never been in such a situation, it was erm… different,” Ashwini says. Young and adventurous, they even afforded themselves a tingling of excitement finding beauty in breakdown.
Jwala remembers an incident opposite Wembley. “We witnessed some rioting from across the street. It was quite disturbing. But you know what happens right in such situations – after every match, we would just forget about the match, look for food, enjoy every morsel and be grateful for the basics. So effectively, we didn’t let a win settle into our system. We hardly discussed the match. It was about playing – going to a nice place to eat – walking a lot and only ensuring we were safe.” In other words, living in the moment – with all its warts and all.
A year on, London would give Jwala-Ashwini another heartbreak at the Olympics. “It was unfair and disappointing that some teams tried to fix the draws and jeopardised our chances. We had gone there well prepared. But that Japan / India / Chinese Taipei situation – it was just sad.”
It’s a scab best reserved for dark moments. But London for Ashwini will always be about India’s least-known World Championship medal and finding her heroic moment of glory and pride amidst chaos of the famous city up in flames. They can almost remember it all in slow motion, such was the drama of the bronze that came out of fire.
Rohit Sharma became the latest Indian cricketer to resume outdoor training. Team India's white-ball vice-captain first took part in a workout session with his wife and then went out to the park. After completing both the sessions, Rohit also shared a post on Instagram.
Like other cricketers, Rohit has also been confined to his home since March. But he has been away from the game for a longer period than the other players. Rohit, who was leading the team in the fifth T20I against New Zealand in the first week of February, had suffered a calf injury. As a result, he missed the ODI and Test series that Followed. He also missed the ODI series against South Africa (last two ODIs of the series were postponed).
Rohit hasn't played any competitive game for almost five months now. After a long time, he hit the field and shared the news on Instagram. Check out his post - https://www.instagram.com/p/CB0g1wUhC1z/?utm_source=ig_embed
A few Indian cricketers resumed training after government's new guidelines last month but those stuck in Mumbai, the worst-hit city in Maharashtra, weren't allowed to do so.
Shardul Thakur, who lives in Palghar, had become the first Indian cricketer to resume training. Although Thakur's move didn't impress BCCI as there were reports that the board wasn't happy with a centrally-contracted player resuming training without its permission.
Following him, the likes of Robin Uthappa, Shreyas Gopal, Washington Sundar and a few players also resumed training. Earlier this week, senior pacer Ishant Sharma shared a clip of him training outside. Since BCCI is looking to stage IPL this year, the news of players training on their own is a big relief for the board.
The board doesn't have any plans to hold training sessions for international players as of now. It will first have to get permission from the Indian government. BCCI is looking at September-October window to stage IPL and the board is only expected to organise sessions for the players once the situation improves.