Guangzhou Asian Games bronze medallist Virdhawal Khade is frustrated over the delay in authorities allowing swimmers to resume training in the pool and says it may push him into retirement. The sports ministry and Sports Authority of India (SAI) have only permitted competitors in some other chiefly Olympic sports to resume on-field training, after a two-and-half-month break due to the pandemic.
Khade, at 28 a veteran in the sport, says if the wait continues, he may have to quit. “Might have to consider retiring from swimming. No news or communication of any sorts for being able to start swimming again. Wish swimming was treated same as other sports,” he tweeted on Sunday, tagging union sports minister Kiren Rijiju and Swimming Federation of India.
“Almost three months since the swimmers in India entered the pool. If other competitive athletes can follow social distancing while training, competitive swimmers can do the same. I hope other Olympic swimming prospects don’t consider retiring because of this,” he added when contacted.
Might have to consider retiring from swimming . No news or communication of any sorts for being able to start swimming again .
Wish swimming was treated the same as other sports in India . 🤷 @IndiaSports @RijijuOffice @KirenRijiju @swimmingfedera1 @Nihar44190177
— Virdhawal Khade OLY (@virdhawalkhade) June 14, 2020
Pools, gyms and sports complexes were shut when the nationwide lockdown was imposed. SAI allowed training to resume in athletics, hockey, badminton, tennis and cricket at the start of the month.
“A lot of negative thoughts are there because if you are a badminton player or shooter you can try to stay in touch with your sport being at home. For swimming, we need to be able to get into the pool and feel the water and train. That’s not happening and I don’t know when it will. I need to decide; maybe I should consider taking up coaching when everything opens up, or focus on the government job I have,” said Khade, who won 50m butterfly bronze at the 2010 Asian Games.
“This is something I need to discuss with my parents and coach and then may be take a call,” he said.
“I am more frustrated because in Bengaluru they have started training for badminton, cricket and other sports… I feel it is a little unfair because in India we have 6-7 swimmers who are very, very close to qualifying for the Olympics—we have achieved the ‘B’ qualifying,” said Khade, who trains at the Padukone-Dravid Academy.
The Kolhapur-born swimmer had planned to train in the US in his bid to achieve the A qualification mark for the Olympics. With the Tokyo Games postponed, SFI now says there may be no competition this year.
Even after they get permission to train, the swimmers will need several months to regain peak. “It will take at least 3-4 months depending on the discipline… For me it would take at least three months to get back to top shape, considering I have maintained physical conditioning.
“When you are swimming your entire body is working at the same time; in no other exercise outside the pool are you using your entire body—finger tips to toes. Though we do weight training and other exercises outside the pool, we need to convert that into strength in the water to go faster.”