Coping with Corona: 'Focused' Rani Rampal unwinds with Punjabi tunes

Rani Rampal scores the goal that helped India qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics ahead of U.S. in Bhubaneswar. Hockey India

The novel coronavirus has brought life to a standstill across the world. The sporting world too, with tournaments cancelled, seasons suspended and athletes bound by the same rules of isolation as the rest of us. ESPN talks to Indian athletes, cooped up in homes or training camps, on their changed routines, with calendars scrambled, competitions on hold and plenty of time on hand.

Rani Rampal, 25

Captain, forward, Indian women's hockey team

National Training Centre, SAI, Kengeri, Bangalore

Following the outbreak, what's the most paranoid thing you've done to keep yourself safe?

Well, I wash my hands as much as I can taking all precautions advised by the government. I wash my hands more than I have in the past I think.

Has your training been affected in any way?

Not really. We were expected to take a break but unfortunately we couldn't. Our focus remains clear and it's about working towards our Olympic preparations. There is a fear amongst everyone (about the virus) but I always believe in staying positive. We are taking the precautions as advised by our government and sports ministry and are still here at the camp.

If you could watch a match from the past on video while you're stuck at home, which one would it be?

The Olympic qualification matches in Bhubaneswar for sure.

Any new hobbies that you've taken up?

Nothing new, but while I am free, I am just enjoying getting stuck into my study material for my MA (English - third semester, Elizabethan drama!) and other than that I'm reading this book Good to Great by Jim Collins. I love listening to Punjabi music of course, Gurdas Mann is a favourite.

What about cheat days?

No cheat days for me before the Olympics because that means I'm only cheating with myself. After Olympics yes, my cheat days will have ice cream in them.

What's an advantage of being in a situation like this where everything has come to a standstill?

It helps us stay focussed on training. I believe it is up to how you think. If you think positive, you stay positive and will get positive results.

What's your fitness routine like these days?

I do gym and running session daily and even if I'd gone home during my break, I would have done the same.

If you could swap lives with any sportsperson for a day who would it be and why?

Mary Kom - she is an absolute inspiration for me. Because of how she competes to such a high standard for so long.