Sushil Kumar’s training at the Chhatrasal Stadium was reduced to basic fitness regime during the lockdown. His personal coach Kamal Malikov had also returned to Dagestan, Russia while trainees at the Chhatrasal Stadium, one of the top wrestling centres in the country, were sent home.
The Chhatrasal Stadium has now reopened, but Sushil, who is also in charge of the Delhi government centre, said it would take some time for the training to start. The two-time Olympic medallist said in a full contact spot like wrestling, training would be difficult and parents fear for the safety of their children.
“Russian Olympic champion (Abdulrashid) Sadulaev had tested positive for COVID-19. I spoke to him yesterday. He is fine now and has come negative in the recent test. Generally, the assumption is that sportspersons have strong immunity level and we won’t get it but it just shows that we too are vulnerable,” said Sushil.
“We have opened the centre and sanitized the facility. We will decide on Monday how to go about resumption of training but the input we are getting from parents is that they are fearful of sending kids for training right now.”
A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) has been made for the centre and Sushil said they would begin with a small group of trainees. “We cannot have everyone training together the way we used to do earlier. Only one or two kids can be allowed to train on the mat at a time. The training schedule has to be different too. We have to be very careful and start step wise taking all precautions because safety is the priority,” he said.
Two of Chhatrasal Stadium trainees Deepak Punia (86kg) and Ravi Dahiya (57kg) have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. Punia has gone back home to his village Chhara in Jhajjar, while Dahiya is at the centre.
“There are only seven-eight wrestlers who stayed back at the Chhatrasal Stadium and we are doing physical fitness,” said Dahiya. “We do not want to rush back to mat training. There is a spike in cases and everyone feels it is better to wait for some more time,” he said.
The Wrestling Federation of India, too, has decided against holding a national camp. The Sports Authority of India (SAI) SOPs have strict restrictions for wrestling. It includes no human sparring – sparring is allowed with personal dummies with only one wrestler per mat at a time. Also, gymnasium cannot be used.