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Sushila’s Olympic dream on hold after judo team withdraws from qualifiers due to COVID

The closest Sushila Devi Likmabam got here to her bodily routines on Wednesday was an hour’s dash within the Bishkek Hotel premises the place the Indian team is presently lodged. The 25-year-old judoka is a part of India’s 15-member team that was pressured to pull out of the Asia-Oceania Olympic qualifiers within the Kyrgyz capital after two players tested positive for COVID-19.

Currently, not one of the Indian judokas have certified for the Tokyo Games and this competitors was a critical alternative for them to achieve factors and transfer up the rankings. According to qualification pointers, the highest 18 judokas throughout weight classes as of June 28 this 12 months, will earn a direct Olympic entry. None of the Indians are presently positioned inside the highest 18 and the almost definitely route seems to be a continental quota, for which Sushila, ranked 44 within the below 48 kg rankings, is a powerful contender.

“We were in the bus on our way to the tournament hall when we heard of the results,” says 2014 Commonwealth Games silver medallist Sushila. “First the entire team was turned away from the competition area and then we were asked to leave our hotel and shifted to another accommodation. We didn’t even get to eat anything yesterday. Since this morning, the Indian embassy has been helping us out with food and supplies. We’re sitting in our rooms, trying to train whatever little we can or watch a movie. Those of us who’ve tested negative are allowed to go for a run inside the hotel compound. I’m struggling to focus because we’ve lost a competition opportunity just like that. Tension bhi ho raha hai aur dukh bhi (We’re feeling both tense and sad).”

“I would survive entire tournaments on bread and whatever snacks I managed to carry from home. The usual trick was to oversleep in the morning, so I don’t have to buy breakfast.”

Sushila Devi Likmabam

Between March 30 and April 5, all 15 gamers and 4 coaches underwent 4 rounds of testing – two prior to departure, one on arrival and one earlier than the official weighing in. According to Indian coach Jiwan Sharma, who’s touring with the team, outcomes of each Ajay Yadav (-73 kg) and Ritu Verma (-52 kg) returned constructive solely within the fourth check. The match guidelines stipulate that if any participant exams constructive, all the team could have to withdraw its participation. In addition to India, the 16-player Mongolian team too was struck out from the competitors after shut to 5 members examined constructive. While those that’ve examined constructive are required to serve the 14-day quarantine, Sharma says he’s coordinating with directors and embassy officers again in New Delhi to organize for the return of the remaining members of the team by Friday. There are two extra competitions – a Grand Prix occasion in Russia in May and the World Championships in Hungary in June earlier than the qualification window closes.

For Sushila, a constable with Manipur police, the scrapes and binds of her sport aren’t contemporary or unfamiliar. While the present match prices are being lined by the ministry, as current as a 12 months and a half in the past, judokas have been paying out of their pockets to fund competitors journey. Sushila remains to be paying off a Rs.4 lakh (approx. US$ 5300) mortgage from her Rs. 25000 (Approx US$ 330) month-to-month wage. “We were always thinking of how to manage money for the next competition,” she says. “We often forgot that we also had to be able to afford food through our stay. I would survive entire tournaments on bread and whatever snacks I managed to carry from home. The usual trick was to oversleep in the morning, so I don’t have to buy breakfast. Now things are so much better.”

To sustain some semblance of coaching throughout the pandemic-induced lockdown, Sushila cleared up a room in her dwelling within the East Imphal district of Heingang Mayai Leikai, arrange a mat and invited a junior nationwide judoka from her area to come stay along with her household, agreeing to bear all bills. The association continued for 3 months. “It’s what kept me going through some of last year,” she says. “I had almost given up the sport after my injury during the Asian Games trials. I could barely walk and I came back home. It was coach sir (Sharma) who pushed me to continue training. In 2019, I started from zero all over again.”

On Sunday, Sushila landed within the Kyrgyz metropolis dreaming of a medal. Three days later, she’s already looking at a return with out even having performed a single bout. “Sometimes you can take all the care possible and still find yourself in such a situation,” she says. “They are beyond our control. Bas ab kismet mein jo likha hai wohi hoga (Now whatever is written in our destiny, will happen).”

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