Rashid Khan the Indian golfer is putting in the hard yards, albeit, in a new sport -- martial arts. (Photo Credit: Twitter)
A front-runner to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games, two-time Asian Tour winner Rashid Khan has taken to martial arts to keep himself fit and fight boredom during the coronavirus-forced lockdown. Rashid is ranked inside top 60 in the Olympic Golf Qualification Rankings -- the cut-off for Olympics -- but with the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down all events globally, including India, he too has been confined to home. Rashid is nonetheless putting in the hard yards, albeit, in a new sport -- martial arts. "I have started practising martial arts at home during this break. I am following Billy Blanks' (American martial artist) videos in Youtube. This is what I can do right now, because I don't have gym at home. It is helping me a lot to keep myself fit," said the 29-year-old told PTI.
"I do it once a day in the evening. In martial arts, you are doing a lot of things like planks, doing weight training and you have to be quick, so it is interesting. I wanted to do something different so that I don't get bored. I also spend a lot of time with my nephew, who is 15 months old. Besides, I watch shows on netflix and amazon, my favourite is the Big Bang Theory," he added.
Rashid Khan is a silver medallist at the 2010 Asian Games. (Image credit: Twitter)
But how is he sharpening his golfing skills amid this lockdown? "With golf courses out of reach, we are not getting practice at all. But I have been doing some putting practice or just swinging it in the wind, to get a feel," said Rashid, a silver medallist at the 2010 Asian Games. Many golfers across the globe have tried out innovative ways to keep in touch with the sport. For example, S Chikkarangappa has been practising his swing by hitting the balls on a hanging cloth at his terrace, while the Chandigarh-based Aadil Bedi, who had won his maiden PGTI title at Bengal Open last month, has turned his home into a mini-golf course.
Rashid said though things are manageable at the moment, their game will suffer if the lockdown is extended. "If we are not able to practice for 21 days, then it is still manageable but if it extends then it ll be a tough task. There are players who have a range in their backyard, for them it is fine but for players who are living in apartments they can't hit the balls. So right now we can't say anything. I am okay since I am a feel player. I have this feeling when I know what I need to do to get back to best once there is resumption. Right now I am just chilling at home."
The inclusion of Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points in the PGTI since last year has helped the domestic player to aspire for a top-100 spot in the world and also qualify for the Olympics. Rashid, who plays mainly in PGTI and the Asian Tour, is currently ranked 54th in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Golf Ranking with June 22, 2020 supposed to be the cut-off date. But with the Olympics being postponed to next year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the IOC has now set June 29, 2021 as the new deadline for qualification.
A total of 60 men and 60 women qualify for the showpiece event and though it is still unclear how golf might change its qualifying criteria to accommodate the additional year, Rashid seemed unfazed. "I am happy with the postponement of Olympics, as long as it is happening and not getting cancelled, it is fine. As for preparation, we will start when things get normal. May be in a month or two, things will improve and we can start what we used to do before. This are extraordinary times," he said. "We had 3-4 tournaments left before the cut off, now we have to see how the calender is made. I guess the way things are, play will start only next year, so I am not worried," he signed off. Apart from Rashid, Udayan Mane is also placed inside top 60 at 57th spot.