Mahesh Mangaonkar back on squash court in Helsinki

The 26-year-old Indian, ranked 49th in the world, is working with the Finland Squash Federation as sparring partner for national team players.

Mahesh Mangaonkar (left) looks at Finland international Olli Tuominen attack the ball at the Talihalli Squash Club in Helsinki.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Mahesh Mangaonkar is back on the squash court as sporting activities resumed in Helsinki following relaxation of lockdown forced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 26-year-old Indian is working with the Finland Squash Federation as sparring partner for national team players and is among early squash pros to get a taste of sporting action and train with the Finns. “It was pretty exciting when many sports facilities opened again. Everyone has been waiting to get on court and start playing again or get to the gym and break a good sweat.”

Mangaonkar, ranked 49th in the world on the Professional Squash Association list, plays in the European club leagues and shifted base from The Hague (Netherlands) to Helsinki after accepting the Finland offer. “We appreciate the opportunity of being able to start sporting activities and express our passion for the sport,” said the Indian squash champion.

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The World Squash Federation (WSF) had announced recommendations, on May 20, for the safety of players in the post-pandemic phase. “Every venue had some rules like not more than 10 people in the gym or squash facility per hour, sanitise hands when you come in and wipe your gym equipment with disinfectant after using it. We all followed the protocol and now the restrictions are reducing. This doesn't mean the pandemic is over. We still need to keep following those rules until there is a cure for this viral infection.”

 

Europe has eased restrictions on movement to infuse confidence among the public and get the economy back on rails. Professional sport, already hurt by freeze on major competitions and gradually returning to competitive league in empty stadiums, should be ready for further stoppages in future, Mangaonkar points out. “We are expecting the second wave of lockdown during October-November. I can say in Finland people are prepared for it.”

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“A second lockdown will happen everywhere in the world, even in India for sure. We need to accept it and be ready,” he said.

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