Karan Prashant Saxena
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
As the Indian Olympic Association continue to discuss with athletes, coaches, and other stakeholders regarding how to restart the national training camps, amid coronavirus pandemic, India boxer Vikas Krishan is of the view that the government should wait it till they are completely satisfied with the safety issues. Vikas is among the nine boxers who earned a Tokyo Olympics quota at the Asian Olympic qualifiers in March. But the pugilist believes that health concerns should be a bigger priority than the Olympics at the moment.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times, Vikas said: “I know a lot of athletes may have different opinions on whether the government should allow Tokyo qualified athletes to re-start training. But I feel everyone needs to have faith in their government. The lobby of ministers and those who are qualified to take these decisions know better than us when to remove the lockdown and when to allow what things.”
The Haryana boxer further said that the government must have a reason for shutting down the national camps. “The lockdown has been in place looking keeping in mind everyone’s safety, security, and health. If they are not running camps, there is a major reason for it. So, I am with the government. Till the time government is completely satisfied, they should not open up the camps. Because the Olympics or boxing is only a sporting event. Health issues are first for the country,” he said.
The 28-year-old boxer, who hails from Bhiwani district of Haryana, is currently staying with his family at his home. He goes to train with a friend at a farm near his house. Vikas believes that all athletes need to make use of the things available to them at the moment to continue their training. With tracks and stadiums shut down, he runs on the roads. He is also making use of the skipping rope, weights, kit bags and punching pads available to him to ensure he continues to train.
“I am also always shadow boxing in front of a mirror. You don’t need any equipment for that. Boxers always practice moves in front of the mirror – it becomes our habit to see if we are making any mistakes. We cannot make excuses that we don’t have this or that,” he says.
Meanwhile, with no training camps, Vikas has started practicing alongside his father, who has never done boxing before. “I taught my father how to hold the punching pads. He did it. Some punches went right, some went wrong. So, I am trying that right now. But I am seeing an improvement in him every day,” he says.
In the process, he is also showing his father how difficult the sport actually is.
“My father tells me after my bout ‘why you did not do this that, why you did not do that’. I tell him that it’s not that easy. He thinks I have been boxing for 18-20 years, anyone could achieve perfection in this long time. He should also realise that boxing is not such an easy sport.”
Apart from boxing, Vikas, who is known to be an avid chess lover, is also teaching his parents how to teach chess. At the age of 50+, he knows his parents will not be able to learn the sport that easily. “But I am doing whatever I can to ensure they enjoy their time,” he says.
The boxer is also reading a book on maintaining finances – Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki. Vikas, who is also under training to be a DSP in Hisar, Haryana Police Department, also spends his time listening to FBI interrogations on Youtube.
“What if you face a situation where there are multiple suspects. How will you figure out who committed the crime? I am listening to these kinds of interviews,” he says.
Vikas had a terrific run at the Asian Boxing Olympic qualifiers in March. where he went on to reach 69kg final, but could not win the gold as he had to bow out of the summit clash after an eye cut that ruled him out. He managed to earn himself a quota and looked in great form for the Tokyo games. The Olympics, though, were postponed by a year due to the pandemic. But Vikas, instead, sees it as a “blessing in disguise”, and says that he was actually when he heard about the postponement.
“At the qualifiers, I realised that there were some areas I needed to work on. With the Olympics three months away. I didn’t have enough time. So, now I am satisfied and I feel that they will see a different version of me in 2021. I needed to work on my defensive skills, so the postponement could be a blessing in disguise,” he says.
The sporting world is trying to figure out what protocols could be put in place in the post-COVID-19 world. Cricket is discussing the use of saliva or sweat on the ball, while football world is wondering if they need to stop players celebrating goals. So what changes can boxing, which in itself is a contact sport, can see after the pandemic.
“There could be an additional corona test you can start on the mornings before the bout during the weigh-ins and medical check-ups. If someone has coronavirus, then the person should be disqualified and the opponent should get a walkover. But other than there cannot be more changes in boxing because it is a combat sport – we have to fight each other, touch each other, there will be an exchange of breaths. You cannot change that,” Vikas signs off.
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