COVID-19 lockdown: The importance of diet among athletes

Cricketer Jhulan Goswami, boxer Akhil Kumar, archer Sanjeeva Singh and former hockey captain Riaz agree that nutrition should be priority in modern-day sports.

Fast bowler Jhulan Goswami feels proper diet will boost a player's immunity when action resumes.   -  FILE PHOTO/PTI

 

The stress on nutrition in modern-day sports is clear from the webinars being conducted for athletes and coaches during the lockdown.

Some top sportspersons, who have seen the change in approach over the past few decades, acknowledge the importance of nutrition.

Commonwealth Games gold medallist boxer Akhil Kumar has seen myths being busted around sportspersons’ diet.

“There were a lot of myths even in the late 1990s. For example, after the weigh-in we used to have sweets. Now boxers are advised against it. There was no idea about nutritious food, what to have and what not to have,” Akhil told Sportstar.

Former India hockey captain Mohammed Riaz agreed. “Many players don’t have any idea about nutrition before they reach the National camp. I also did not know much initially. It is a myth that vegetarian diet cannot give you strength. The Namdharis, one of the finest hockey teams, are strict vegetarians,” said Riaz.

Sanjeeva Singh, an Arjuna and Dronacharya award winning archer, shared an interesting anecdote.

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“In (1988) Seoul Olympics, a bus used to leave from the Games Village to the Indian embassy every evening and athletes from one or two disciplines used to be the first ones to get into the bus and grab Indian food after reaching the embassy. The target was to fill the stomach,” said Sanjeeva.

The objective, however, has changed.

“Whosoever aspires to do well in Olympics, he/she needs to spend 15-20 days in the foreign land, get used to their food habits and develop a taste for it.

“You cannot be starving because of your rigid food habits, which affects the performance. You need to know how much carbohydrate, protein and water you should have,” said Sanjeeva.

Akhil was happy to note the “increase in awareness about nutrition.”

According to Riaz, online interaction on nutrition is the need of the hour. “One must remain fit during the lockdown. Watch what you eat and do daily exercises. The athletes should remain in touch with doctors and nutritionists.”

International cricketer Jhulan Goswami, while welcoming an initiative from the Cricket Association of Bengal, advocated the need to have good diet. “Proper diet will boost the players’ immunity and fitness level. When they return to the ground after the lockdown, they will feel confident. In today's world, we know how important proper diet is for an athlete,” said Jhulan.