All efforts will go to waste if Olympics is cancelled: Mirabai Chanu

Mirabai Chanu. Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

The COVID-19 pandemic has cast serious doubts over the upcoming Olympic Games and weightlifter Mirabai Chanu is worried. "If the Olympics doesn't happen all our efforts for the last four years will all go to waste. I don't want it to cancel, I am praying to god every day. I just wanted to get an Olympic medal for myself," Mirabai told PTI.

Mirabai's maiden Olympic campaign had ended in disappointment as she failed to lift the weight in any of her three attempts in the clean & jerk in the Rio Olympics in 2016.

While calls for postponing the Tokyo Games until the virus is contained are increasing, the two-time Commonwealth Games gold-medalist, wants the quadrennial event to go as planned.

"The pressure [of winning a medal] has changed to the Olympics should not be cancelled. That is all I am thinking. The rest, training, etc., I am not tensed about right now. Even if it's postponed there will be a lot of problem because a lot can change in a short period of time for us," she said.

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) has had to cancel five continental championships, including the Asian event. "I was preparing for Asians very well. There was a lot of uncertainty whether it will happen or not. I have already qualified for the Olympics but in the Asian Championship we would have got a clear picture," she said.

"I wanted to improve my effort here so that I go to the Olympics high on confidence. That was the target. If the Asian Championship had taken place it would have been a good platform for me to better my performance."

Last week, sports minister Kiren Rijiju had announced that all national camps, except those where athletes are preparing for Tokyo Olympics, were postponed and academic training at the National Centre of Excellence and Sports Authority of India Centres will also stand suspended.

The directive has led many to vacate the Patiala campus of the National Institute of Sports, where the weightlifters train.

"The institute has also become quite empty as only the athletes training for the Olympics are left. Only the core group of weightlifting is training. We were scared of going out also," she said.

"The number of cases is growing in India so that's scary. Everyone has become very particular at training, so they keep on washing hands when we are practising. We keep reading the news for information as to how to protect ourselves," she added.

Meanwhile, ace shooter Manu Bhaker is currently not thinking about things that are beyond her control. "Trials, events should be postponed in current situation as there are other very important things for the world to deal with," Bhaker told PTI. "Altogether we are strictly following instructions of the health ministry and the guidelines of World Health Organisation."

She was one of the few shooters who participated in a trial organised recently by the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI). The trial was arranged to allow the shooters to register their scores after the postponement of the New Delhi ISSF World Cup and the Indian team's pullout from the Cyprus Shotgun World Cup owing to the coronavirus outbreak.

"Camp situation was fine as only few shooters were there, there was no large gathering and it was for three days," she said.

Asked about the Olympics Games that are shrouded in uncertainty, Bhaker said she would look to carry on with her routine that is part of her preparation.

"I am relaxed at home. The current situation doesn't affect my preparation and mindset. I am continuing with my yoga sessions, meditation and things that help me stay calm and composed. The Olympics, whenever it happens, is huge, so we need to be prepared. And I am preparing as planned," she said.

Bhaker, who secured an Olympic quota for India in the women's 10m air pistol event, enjoyed a successful season last year where she won five World Cup gold medals in individual and team events.