Athletes mentally tough: Sunil

'Athletes mentally tough'

Indian star hockey player SV Sunil says he has gone through worse compared to the current situation of being locked-up with all the facilities available.

S V Sunil is well known for his speed and dribbling prowess on the hockey field. With the clock ticking fast and the score board favouring the ‘common invisible enemy’, he too agrees that countering the surging attack from coronavirus is way trickier than penetrating through the best rival defenders to score goals.

The 30-year-old forward, with 264 caps and 72 international goals, is looking at the positives to face the Covid-19 situation. Currently, the entire team is based out of Sports Authority of India (SAI) facility here with all the precautionary measures taken to ensure no outsider is allowed inside the campus and people working at the centre are being screened at the gate before entering.

Born to a humble family in Somvarpet of Kodagu district, the soft-spoken attacker is known as a fighter. With the words ‘Harder the battle, sweeter the victory’ inked on his bicep, Sunil says he has gone through worse compared to the current situation of being locked-up with all the facilities available.

“As athletes we have been through far more difficult challenges," Sunil, who underwent two career threatening injuries in the prime of his career, tells DH.  "I have had a few major injuries in my career as a player and during our recovery phase we are advised bed rest with absolutely no physical activity and this could last for weeks. I feel having been through such phases in life, sports people are better equipped mentally to deal with this kind of situation."

The news of postponing the Tokyo Olympics broke out when the team was in the middle of a high-intensity training programme that started from the beginning of March. Sunil says the team has overcome the news that they won't be boarding the flight to Tokyo this year. “Though we were initially disappointed, it is behind us now and we continue to be focused on our goal of winning an Olympic medal. While the hockey training is suspended, we are using this period to de-load and cool-off physically and mentally, as we spend more than 300 days a year in training and competition."

However, the team is following a strict fitness regimen set by the coaching staff who have made significant changes in the schedule to ensure social distancing norms. “Each of us has been given independent workout charts which involves distance-running. We do individual bodyweight training in our rooms, using stretch chords and basic weights of our own and avoid using the gym. For meals in the canteen, we go in batches and sit far away from each other,” he said.

"They have also been assigned various tasks such as analysing different teams and their strategies by the coaching staff who are present in full strength. We use a software to do this and have individual video meetings with our chief coach,” he adds.

Staying away from family is not something new for the right-winger, who has had a stint as captain and vice-captain of the national team. “I decided to stay here although my wife and child live only 20 kms away from the SAI campus because it’s safe for all of us."