Coping with Corona: Netflix and (no) chill for Angad Bajwa

Angad Vir Singh Bajwa holds the distinction of being the first Indian shooter to win a skeet gold medal at any continental or world event. Parinaz Dhaliwal

In these times of social distancing, sport is a casualty. Tournaments stand cancelled, seasons suspended and sport worldwide is almost at a virtual standstill. ESPN will be bringing you serialized accounts of Indian athletes, cooped up in homes or training camps, on what their lives are like now, with calendars scrambled, competitions on hold and plenty of time to kill.

Angad Vir Singh Bajwa

Skeet shooter, Indian Olympic shooting team


How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your preparation?

It has completely screwed my training in a big way.

As a shooter, I can possibly peak about twice in a year, so I have to plan [for tournaments] ahead. This year I thought those would be the shotgun World Cup in Cyprus and the Olympics. Just before the World Cup, the federation said we weren't going to be going after all. Then we were supposed to have the Delhi World Cup and that got cancelled as well. I left for home and then two days later I was called back for trials in Delhi.

It has been challenging for my coach [Norwegian, Tore Brovold] as well. He was supposed to come to India a week back but that looks unlikely now. He had been working with me in Cyprus and so when he got back to Norway, he got placed in quarantine. He's going to be in there for another 10 days.

What about training?

The fact that we can't travel abroad, hits us shotgun shooters a lot more than the rifle and pistol guys.

Our sport is an outdoor one. It's similar to golf in a way because we need to shoot in different conditions and in different ranges. I've put a plan in place to practise at ranges in Pune and Hyderabad but there is a limitation there. In Europe, the ranges usually have mountains or trees in the background. That makes it a lot more challenging. In contrast, most ranges in India have the skyline as the background. There's nothing in the horizon, making it very similar and it's a lot easier to track the target.

Is there any advantage to the current travel restrictions?

The only advantage I can see is that I'll get to spend some time at home after a really long time.

The national camp has gone on for a month now because there haven't been any tournaments we could take part in. A lot of athletes here are from or around Delhi but I'm from Chandigarh. The biggest thing I miss is home. Staying in a hotel really drains you out, especially if you are living out of a couple of suitcases.

What's your physical training looking like?

The other advantage I can think of is that I'll get some time to work on my fitness.

I usually do three days of weight training and five days of cardio. Just because there is not a lot of certainty about the future doesn't mean that I can just forget about my fitness or diet. Physically I need to be consistent because if I swing between weights, that affects my shooting.

I'm normally very disciplined. I'll hit all my macronutrients. My cheat days aren't too bad, maybe a Subway sandwich. As of now I'm maintaining my 2,400 calories a day. I speak to a lot of nutritionists and also some of my seniors like Ronjan [Sodhi]. They use their experience to tell me what I should be doing.

"If you told me I'd get coronavirus if I travelled to Tokyo for the Olympics, I'd do it anyway." Angad Vir Singh Bajwa

What do you plan on doing in the free time you have?

I'll catch up on my Netflix for sure. The new season of Money Heist is starting in April so I'll probably watch that.

That's a strange feeling because normally I would be analysing my video and getting feedback from my coach. I can't do that because it's difficult to do video analysis when he's not here. He has actually asked me to take a break from shooting for the next one week entirely. I think I can manage to do that for a couple of days but I'll be itching to get a gun in my hands after that.

What's your worst-case scenario?

The absolute worst-case scenario for me would be the Olympics getting called off.

It's a financial hit as well. I'm largely self-funded and all my coach's tickets and accommodations had been paid for before he got placed in quarantine. But that's still something I'm okay with. I'm shooting the best I have ever done and where I am today is the result of eight years of work. It would be devastating for me if I couldn't go to the Olympics.

It's so important to me that if you told me I'd get coronavirus if I travelled to Tokyo for the Olympics, I'd do it anyway.