Olympic bronze medal winning wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt has a simple solution to the problem of staying confined at home in the time of a nationwide lockdown.

Sharing how his determination helped him stay isolated for six months in South Africa while recovering from a knee surgery, Yogeshwar said the country’s collective willpower would beat the deadly COVID-19 virus.

Failure at the 2008 Beijing Olympics had made Yogeshwar hungrier for success. He travelled to South Africa in 2009 for a surgery to fix his injured knee. The time required for recovery and rehabilitation tested Yogeshwar, who has bagged several medals in top level competitions, including the 2012 London Olympics.

“I spent six months in recovery and rehab. I was almost alone. In those days it was not easy to speak to one’s family over phone. I used to watch whatever Indian films came on television and listened to music to pass my time. My only aim was to recover from the injury and become fully fit. I focused on that to overcome my loneliness.

“Right now, we should aim at beating coronavirus. This will make our stay at home easier. These days we have got so many facilities, including social media, to stay engaged. Spending time with family is another good option,” Yogeshwar told The Hindu.

For Yogeshwar, who joined politics during the Haryana elections last year, social commitments have increased. But he is monitoring all this from home. “In our Gohana village, we are feeding about 2000 to 3000 people every day. We are also trying to extend help to all the needy people in our locality. We have a 12-member team, which is looking into all this.

“Amid all this, we are following the rules of social distancing. The biggest challenge at this moment is helping poor families with food and other basic needs,” said Yogeshwar, who has shut down his wrestling academy to protect the trainees from the virus.

Welcoming the postponement of the Olympics, Yogeshwar expressed confidence that the Indian wrestlers would be unaffected by the one-year delay.

“All of them have been performing well for the last two-three years. They need to protect themselves from the virus, maintain focus and use the additional time to get back to top form again. They know how to do it, they just need to stay fit,” said Yogeshwar.

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