Lockdown diaries: Shot-put short-circuited for Tajinder Pal Singh Toor!

This lockdown is for our good only, if there is any infection inside it would be more dangerous, says star shot-putter Tajinder Pal Singh.

Tajinder Pal Singh Toor in action in the men’s shot put at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, in October 2019.   -  AP

Since the government-mandated lockdown of sports centres owing to the coronavirus threat, national campers across sports have been in a state of flux. At the NIS, Patiala, while those inside insist their lives haven’t really changed in terms of daily schedules, the uncertainty is definitely a concern.

Shot-putter Tajinder Pal Singh Toor is among those who admit the clampdown was necessary.

What is the situation right now at the NIS?

Since the national camp and the NIS campus have been sealed right now, we cannot move anywhere. There is a total lockdown of the premises, all competitions have been cancelled. I am talking to you after my training session; I was supposed to be throwing at the Indian GP. But we have been told that all competitions have been pushed back to at least after May 15 for now.

It’s not like we feel tied down; we are used to being in camps for long periods and our schedule doesn’t allow much socialising anyway. But this lockdown is for our good only, if there is any infection inside it would be more dangerous. I think this is one of the very few centres in operation even in lockdown, otherwise across the world most training centres have been shut. Those athletes cannot even train anywhere.

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Can you explain how things panned out since the virus news first broke?

Honestly speaking, it didn’t look like it would become so serious so quickly. Yes, there were concerns when it first broke but till it reached India, there was no idea it would be such a situation. But now like we are seeing and the way it spread so fast in a country like Italy with a low population and better medical facilities — hamari to population hi bahut zyada hai in comparison (our population is so much more).

Other training venues and grounds are also shut, at least in Punjab I know, and athletes are struggling to do something with their time.

 

Now there is a nationwide curfew, all grocery stores are seeing a rush with people stocking up on daily essentials. This is a problem.

All this is happening for the past 8-10 days, it was controlled before that. People need to become more aware both in terms of their behaviour and precautions. All schools, colleges, offices are shut down to prevent the spread of infection but people are seeing this as vacation time, visiting relatives and friends!

They should stay home and stay protected. Log holiday feeling le rahe hain!

(From left) Silver medallist Wu Jiaxiang of China, India’s Tajinder Pal Singh Toor, the champion, and third placed Ivan Ivanov of Kazakhstan at the medal ceremony of the Asian Athletics Championships in Doha, in 2019.   -  AP

 

Is it easier for someone like you, who spends a large part of the year in camps and competitions, to adjust to this situation?

Yes and no. See we do not really feel much difference because we do not have the kind of daily home-office-home routine like most people. Our lives, in any case, mainly revolve around our room, ground, gym, mess through the week.

But the absence of competitions and clarity does affect one. The Indoor Asian Championships in China was cancelled. We were told about the GP being cancelled only at a very short notice. I am fit now, I was all set for trials, threw 20.43m and feeling good for more, we are all training hard but we don’t know for what. It is very disappointing and disturbing. I am not sure what will happen.

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It is not easy to maintain peak form and fitness for a long period of time, but we are looking at tweaking the training schedules and repetitions as per the coach’s advice. Mentally also it is not easy to stay focused for so long if everything is delayed.

How is your family handling it?

As of now they are fine. I speak to them daily and had told them to stock up the required daily needs because you don’t know how long the lockdown might continue. So things are under control and the family is fine. Of course, there are small problems in terms of movement — I have told them to try and avoid meeting too many people for some time, you don’t know who is infected. Stay home as much as possible.

What do you do in your spare time now that you can’t go out anywhere?

Through the week there isn’t much time anyway between training and rest. It’s a set routine. Sundays, as rest days, used to be boring, yes, but we could go out and spend time earlier. Now it will get double boring inside! I spend some time on social media and I think I will also download PUBG now and start playing that like everyone else! (He is also very active on TikTok and Instagram). It does get a bit frustrating but as I said, it’s for a few days and it is only for our own good, we should manage it willingly.

Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Kiran Rijiju presenting the Arjuna Award to Tajinder Pal Singh Toor in New Delhi in November 2019.   -  Sushil Kumar Verma

 

What if you had to be isolated? Who would you want that to be with?

(Discus thrower) Gagandeep Singh. You put us together in a room for 2-3 weeks and we won’t be bored, between us we will manage full time-pass!

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Your message to your family, friends, fans?

The most important thing is life.

Jeevan hoga tabhi sports hoga, so the most important thing is to save yourself first. To do that, I would only tell them to stay safe, meet as few people as possible, stay home, wash your hands regularly.

Try not to touch anything unnecessarily and if you do, make sure you clean up immediately. Take all precautions, it is never too much. Stay healthy, stay safe.