Bengaluru: The Indian men’s hockey team midfielder Nilakanta Sharma (pictured, left) has mainly focused on maintaining his fitness during the nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The 25-year-old expressed that the entire team is carrying out several exercises in their rooms at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) campus in Bengaluru, in order to stay focused during this uncertain period.

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“There’s no doubt that it has been a difficult couple of months for all of us. We made it a point to keep training in whichever way we can once the lockdown began. With minimal equipment such as bands, we are doing several exercises in our rooms throughout the day. Fitness will play a key role in how we react to certain situations once we are in the midst of a match in the future. We are carrying out push-ups, crunches, sit-ups and going for individual runs on a regular basis. Our scientific advisor Robin Arkell has devised some amazing fitness schedules which have helped us maintain our fitness standards,” said the midfielder.

Nilakanta, who has been part of the Indian squad for major tournaments such as the Hockey Men’s World Cup 2018 and FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers 2019, believes that his experience of playing in big tournaments will be a huge bonus at the Tokyo Olympics next year.

“I have been in the international circuit for around three years and have been very fortunate to be a part of big competitions such as the Hockey Men’s World Cup 2018 and FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers 2019. It's great to have so much experience under my belt, which will be a big bonus for a tournament like the Olympics next year. I have learned to stay calm and composed in pressure situations and have a great understanding of my role in the side,” said the 25-year-old from Manipur.

Nilakanta further added that he communicates very well with the Indian captain Manpreet Singh and Hardik Singh in the midfield region.

“The way Manpreet and I communicate on the field is terrific. Manpreet motivates all of us through the way he plays his game and ensures that every player is contributing to the team's cause in some way or the other. I share a great bond with Hardik as well. We understand each other's games which makes it easy for us to support each other. We have been communicating well for quite some time now and hopefully, we will be able to hit the right note as soon as we get back to practice and eventually on the field,” said the midfielder.