Woller Akos had returned home to his family in Hungary in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. It has been over 40 days since he last attended a training session with Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat. But even though miles away, he has constantly made sure to keep a tab on his apprentices training amid lockdown. “We are in constantly in touch via WhatsApp. I send her weekly training programme’s which she can do at home,” he says.
The Hungarian coach also makes sure to keep Phogat’s motivation high in these trying time. The Indian wrestler had been dreaming for Tokyo Olympics for the past couple of years. But the outbreak of COVID-19 had put her plans on a back-burner. Akos says that it is not easy to be motivated all the time but only those who dare to stick to his/her dreams will be a win.
WrestlingTV: How are the conditions in Hungary?
Akos: Condition in Hungary is fine. Officially not many cases have been reported in the country.
WrestlingTV: Last week the Hungary government had decided to resume training, what are the guidelines given by them?
Akos: For the next two to three weeks mat training is not allowed. Only condition training is possible for now. It is after that training on the mat will resume. But it will only be in small groups of three to four pairs. Besides this, there are some guidelines which need to be followed in the locker room.
WrestlingTV: What do you think will be the future of wrestling since it is a contact sport?
Akos: I hope things will return to normal by October or November. Then we can train in full swing. And I don’t think wrestling as a contact sport is a big problem.
WrestlingTV: How do you keep in touch with Vinesh?
Akos: We are in regular touch and it is usually via WhatsApp that we communicate.
WrestlingTV: She had been dreaming of the Olympics for many years, but now since the Games are postponed how difficult it has been for her?
Akos: This is hard for everyone. Athletes, coaches, support staff, everyone is in it together. The situation is more serious for senior wrestlers but Vinesh is still young. However, keeping up the motivation is difficult. She needs to look at the positive side of it. The deferment of the Olympic Games has given her one more year to prepare.
WrestlingTV: What is the training plan that is being followed?
Akos: Every week I send her the training programme. It is usually simple exercises that she can do at home. Although they are simple they are not easy. Keeping the level high is the goal currently.
WrestlingTV: With no competitions and training, an athlete’s form is a big concern, how do you think it will affect the performance?
Akos: We still have a lot of time. After the lockdown ends the priority should be to get back into top shape and do a lot of physical training. If we hurry to mat training, there will be more chances of injury.
WrestlingTV: What are your message for Vinesh and many other wrestlers like her who are young and dreaming of Olympic glory but now it is on a back-burner?
Akos: Vinesh and I are regularly in touch so no special message for her. But for others it is a simple message, “The winner can only be the one who always and in all circumstances sticks to his/her dreams”.