Three years ago, Jinson Johnson was the toast of the country when he returned with a gold and silver from the Jakarta Asian Games. He grew stronger in September 2019 when he set a national record in the 1500m clocking 3:35.24s in Berlin and came very close to the Olympics qualification time of 3:35.00s.
The Tokyo ticket appeared to be in his reach then. But an Achilles tendon injury later that year put him off track for many months. Then came the long coronavirus lockdown.
Johnson suffered another jolt last month when COVID-19 hit him with full force.
“I got it from inside the camp, I did not go out anywhere and it came with all the symptoms. I had severe headache, bodyache, fever and breathlessness. The first 10 days of quarantine were okay but the last four were difficult. I completed my isolation period some five days ago but my body has not fully recovered yet,” said the Asiad 1500m champion in a chat with Sportstar from the Bengaluru national camp.
“I feel very tired, my muscles feel weak, I still have problems while breathing. I just do some walking these days,” he added.
The Olympic Games are less than three months away but for the country's best middle distance runner they look very far.
“I can't say anything about my Olympic preparations now. I will need about two weeks in May to gain full recovery. And if I'm fit, I'll do the Grand Prix in June,” said the 30-year-old, the 800 and 1500m national record holder.
“Just before I got COVID, everything was going well. Even a couple of days before I got that test result on that Monday, I did my training well. All the hard work has gone waste, it has affected my life in a big way too,” he added.
Johnson will also be leaving the national camp soon. “My name is not in the latest list. Only athletes who have qualified for the Olympics and who are likely to qualify are kept in the national camp. I will be going to Ooty shortly and train there. I will be following coach Amrish Kumar's training schedule.”
He has a word of advice for fellow athletes. “Not just athletes but everybody. The experience before getting COVID and after getting it is very different. Once you catch it, it affects you badly.
“Now is the time to be careful, wear a mask even when relatives, friends or neighbours come home. Sometimes, we tend to remove our mask when they visit us...that should not be the case. Be alert always,” he added.
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