It’s that time of the year when the athletes usually keep themselves busy with the final preparation for the Olympics. With most of the qualifiers over, the sporting heroes, across disciplines, tend to utilise this period to work on their fitness ahead of the mega event.
However, with the Tokyo Olympics 2020 postponed by a year due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, things are different, this time around.
And the pandemic has led to a global lockdown, forcing most of the athletes to stay at home. Their practice sessions are halted; the plans of specialised training are in a jeopardy, but even then, the athletes are looking forward to the Olympics next year.
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Jamaican sprint ace, Yohan Blake, too, is training indoors these days, under the supervision of his coach Gregory Little, and is quietly keeping himself ready for the challenges ahead. “We are doing some aerobatic fitness work, making sure that we are fit. We all are at a halt now yes, but we have to stay mentally strong,” Blake told Sportstar on Thursday.
The 30-year-old, who clinched 100-meter gold medal at the World Championships in 2011, had to be content being the second fastest man -- behind compatriot Usain Bolt in both 100 and 200 meters. But the two-time Olympic sprint relay gold medallist, believes that its important to stay motivated in such times of crisis. “With the Olympics put off, it is sad, but we can still have a shot at it next year and also, this will help an athlete to be more ready,” Blake said.
With all the sporting action suspended, Blake’s training schedule, these days, have also changed. “The season is already cancelled, but you can’t sit (idle) for the entire six or eight months,” he said.
“The training programme has changed. We are working three times a week now to keep the body in right shape.”
For a track and field athlete, it is not easy to train in a closed environment. But in testing times like these, Blake believes it is important to maintain social distancing and stay indoors. “Right now, to train in an closed environment is going to be hard and different. But we can’t do much about it. We need to put in the work and ensure that we stay safe and also protect people around us,” Blake said.
“We have to believe that this is going to end soon and we need to continue working to keep the body fit and ensure that we do not put on weight.”
While there is still enough time left for the Olympics, most of the athletes have already started their planning. And Blake is no exception. “Yes, I have to wait for one more year (for the Games), but we have to just keep ourselves fit and put in the work,” he said, adding: “I know that a lot of athletes had already run qualifying times for (the Olympics) but then, in life (such things happen)…”
However, he admits that the delay in Olympics is also a boon for athletes, who are yet to make the cut.
“It is a window of opportunity for athletes who did not qualify. Those who were injured and were behind the schedule in terms of training, can also get more time to level the playing field,” he said.
While he has his eyes set on Olympics, for now, the sprint ace has prayers on his lips. “These are hard times. We have to pray to God that no more lives are lost due to the virus and that everything can run smoothly next year and hope that everyone stays strong…” he said.
But then, how does he spend his time at home?
When he is not training indoors, Blake makes it a point to play cricket -- which happens to be his ‘favourite sport’ -- in his backyard. “You need to keep yourself motivated, and also watch videos, spend time with the loved ones. That’s all we can do for now,” the Jamaican stated.
At a time when the number of cases are spiking everyday, Blake understands that it is necessary to spread awareness. “Well, with times like these, we have to come together and work as one because a lot of people are losing their lives,” he said.
Like every other athlete, these are challenging times for Blake as well, but he hopes that the clouds of uncertainty will soon make way for some sunshine.
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