A former World Championship bronze-medallist Gaurav Bidhuri made headlines last year when he challenged the selection procedure for the Olympic Qualifiers – claiming that the system ”has been unfair to him”. Hoping for fair trials for the upcoming Olympics, Gaurav is working hard to maintain his fitness during the coronavirus-forced lockdown. Also Read - IPL 2020: Rajasthan Royals Fielding Coach Dishant Yagnik Tests Positive For Coronavirus

In an exclusive chat with India.com, Gaurav – a bantamweight challenger – discusses the issues he encountered during the lockdown period, how he stayed motivated, governments support during the testing times, why promising athletes are leaving Delhi to represent other states and his future ambitions. Also Read - India COVID Update: 60963 Cases, 834 Deaths Within 24 Hours; Total Infection Tally Over 23.29 Lakh

How important is the gym for a world-class athlete of your level to stay fit? Also Read - Sputnik V: Russia Claims World’s First COVID Vaccine; 'Hard to Trust Without Trial Data', Say Scientists | Key Points

For every athlete, fitness and skills are equally important. If he is not fit then whatever skill he has won’t be useful, he won’t last long.

At the gym, we have all kinds of equipment in one place – like the aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Proper strength, power, and endurance workout with resistance, mobility exercises and etc.

Now, we are finding alternatives like our own body weight fitness training at home in order to be fit and to cope up with the current pandemic. But we can’t compare substitute home workout with a proper workout at a well-established gym. Waiting for this pandemic to get over and soon we’ll be back to our normal fitness regime.

How were you feeling during the initial days of the lockdown when you could not visit the gym like you are used to? 

It was something challenging for us as we are used to training in our proper boxing and fitness gym. But being a responsible citizen of our country, I followed all the precautions during the lockdown by staying at home. I have been doing my fitness and my boxing workout like shadow boxing, working on my footwork, my reflexes in my room.

How did you motivate yourself to stay fit during the lockdown?

We all know that it’s not just me who is suffering because of COVID-19, but the whole world. We can’t make it a reason for ruining our life. We are in lockdown, but not bedridden. I know my targets and to achieve that I made the best possible use of the time and situation I have. At least I can do whatever is possible. And this one quote I used a lot to keep myself upbeat during the testing times, “we are in lockdown but not bedridden” in many press releases, just to motivate others and to show them the reality. Don’t find a reason to quit instead find a reason to move forward no matter what are the circumstances. I did many live motivation sessions and Zoom meetings with college students like IIT, Hyderabad, Vits Vellore, and had been a speaker in many webinars, Instagram lives.

Sports minister Kiren Rijiju held workshops for boxers during the lockdown, how much did it help?

Our Boxing Federation of India (BFI) has organised many live sessions for boxers. One was with our sports minister Mr. Kiren Rijiju sir. We all admire him as he himself is into fitness and he shared all his thoughts about the current pandemic, how should we tackle this and what will be our future plans. The best part is that he has been following boxing for a long time. Like that we had online sessions by BFI for training, psychologist, physio online session, sessions with a nutritionist which was really helpful.

Did you receive help from the Delhi government?

To be honest, the sportsmen of Delhi are not getting what we deserve as compared to other states. No proper policies, no job assurance nothing. I have requested our CM Mr. Arvind Kejriwal ji when I came back to India after winning bronze at world boxing championship and I created history by being the 4th Indian male boxer ever to get a medal at the World championship and the only boxer from Delhi at the prestigious event. Our CM said he will work on this but until now I am still waiting for something to come up for us Delhi athletes so that we can also do well in sports like other states – Haryana, Punjab, Maharashtra for example. They have a good sports policy and get jobs and awards. This is the reason Haryana is and these other states are doing better than Delhi. Even many have changed their state from Delhi to other just to a proper government job. People have suggested to me many times to move to other nearby state and get what you actually deserved but being a proud Delhite I still have hope on our CM Arvind Kejriwal sir that he would definitely do something for our Delhi athletes.

Now that you are going to the India Gate to train – does it actually help or is it more mental? 

Actually I stepped out to do cycling in order to stay fit, it is something that releases mental pressure. Right now restriction is less but coronavirus is getting more dreadful. So in order to be safe, I follow all the precautions, wear masks, carry sanitizer, avoid public gatherings. I just go on cycle to India Gate to do my workout and return home . No gathering nothing.

With the Tokyo Olympics postponed, what next for Gaurav?

Before the pandemic, we were in the camp and training for the next Olympic qualifiers that is the world Olympic qualifier. But because of Coronavirus, everything stopped and even Olympic got postponed. So my dream is still alive. I wish this pandemic get over soon and things come to normal and we start having our competition as well as this last qualifier for boxing. I hope our BFI and coaches make the right selection criteria for our next qualifier and give me a chance to appear for the trials because I deserve an equal chance to prove myself.

Your advice for young boxers during the pandemic to remain upbeat…

Yes, this advice is for boxers, all athletes and non-athletes. We are stuck in a very dreadful situation but instead of looking at the negatives, we should take it as a challenge. Like other viruses, we will overcome this as well. As we Indians have defeated such viruses like polio and chickenpox. We can do this. So don’t lose hope for yourself. Stay positive, just make the best possible use of the time and things you have right now in your hand.