The first death anniversary of renowned sports journalist and Sports Editor of Dainik Sangbad Ajay Barua falls on Sunday (July 12).
Eminent sports journalist Ajay Barua, a former vice president of Bangladesh Sports Journalists Association (BSJA), breathed his last at a London hospital on July 12 last year at the age of 70.
He left behind his wife, two daughters, a son and a large number of well-wishers to mourn his death.
Ajay, a freedom fighter, went to England to cover the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, was initially admitted to King George Hospital in London after falling sick. When his condition worsened, then he was put on life support at the Saint Berts Hospital in the UK where he was expired after 10 days.
Ajay Barua joined the Dainik Sangbad in 1974 as a sports journalist and performed his duties as its sports editor till he passed away.
He was a Dhaka University Blue and a decorated sportsman before beginning his career in sports journalism. He also played football for Dhaka Abahani.
He was one of the founding members of Bangladesh Sports Journalists’ Association and also served as the sports secretary of Jagannath Hall of Dhaka University.
Barua, who loved to play football and cricket in his formative years, was involved with sports journalism for around five decades.
Also read: Sports journalist Ajay Barua dies in London
The government has allotted Tk 3 crore as humanitarian aid for 150 distressed athletes in the country on Tuesday.
State Minister for the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Zahid Ahsan Russell handed over the cheques of humanitarian aid for the athletes on behalf of National Sports Council and Bangabandhu Krirashebi Kalyan Foundation.
While distributing the financial aid for athletes at National Sports Council building in the capital, State Minister said they have already provided aid to over 600 athletes.
The allotted money will be handed over to the root level athletes soon as per the directive of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, he said adding that a modelling a policy in this regard is underway.
State Minister also informed that they have been working to provide Tk 24,000 to each of 1,150 athletes in one year from Bangabandhu Krirashebi Kalyan Foundation.
Rafael Nadal says it will be "very difficult" for tennis to return to action any time soon and is concerned about the risk of injuries when the sport resumes.
Nadal spoke in a joint interview with NBA player Pau Gasol that was published by Spanish newspapers on Monday.
"I don't think training would be a problem, but competing... I see it very difficult," Nadal said. "It's a moment to be responsible and coherent, so I don't see how we can travel every week to a different country.
"I would be OK playing without fans, even though that's not what we want, but unfortunately, from what I'm seeing, even though things are improving, for our sport I don't see it prudent to be competing again any time soon."
Nadal pointed out that even though there is a smaller risk of contagion in tennis compared to team sports, there are many people involved in the organization of tennis tournaments, from hotels to other sectors of society.
"As far as competing, maybe our sport is the most complicated one, having to move a lot of people week after week," he said.
Nadal, who has had to deal with a series of injuries throughout his career, is also worried that the risk of new injuries will increase when players return to action.
"When I hit a ball again, my arm is going to hurt in several places ... my wrist, my elbow," the 19-time Grand Slam champion said. "When you are out of action, the risk of an injury is a lot greater than when you are exercising, even if just a bit.
"If I could have a tennis-related training for half an hour every day, If I could at least exercise the specific muscles that are needed in tennis, I think that would help get the rust off my body when we get back to action."
Gasol also spoke about his concerns in the interview with newspapers that was conducted through a Zoom session and also included other Spanish athletes such as golfer Sergio Garcia, motorcycle rider Marc Márquez, F1 driver Carlos Sainz, cyclist Alejandro Valverde and soccer coach Julen Lopetegui.
The interview was promoted to help Nadal's and Gasol's campaign to encourage donations to the Red Cross and help during the health crisis prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. The interview was published by the Spanish sports newspapers Marca, As, Mundo Deportivo and Sport.
Gasol, who has been out of action for more than a year because of a foot injury, also expects a tough time on his body when the NBA returns to action.
"The idea was for me to prepare myself for the Tokyo Games, but that has changed and there is a lot of uncertainty now," he said. "When I get back to a basketball court, it's not only my foot that is going to hurt, it's also my hip, back, shoulder, knee ... everything."
Gasol said the NBA wants a training period of at least three to four weeks for players before the league can restart.
Nadal also spoke about how he has been paying special attention to his tennis academy in Mallorca, where there are about 150 people confined, including 85 kids.
Spain has been in a lockdown since March 14 and the confinement is expected to continue at least until May 9.
Celebrated shooter Asif Hossian Khan, who won the first and only shooting gold medal for Bangladesh in the Commonwealth Games, expressed his interest to auction his medal to raise funds for people affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
Asif brought laurel for the country by winning an individual gold medal in the 10-metre air rifle in the 17th Commonwealth Games 2002 held in Manchester, England.
"I want to auction my gold medal. I do not have much else with which I can contribute. If I am able raise some funds by auctioning it then I will be able to help the needy people during this crisis period. I think this is a good thing to do and I will feel very good," Asif said .
Asif said he is not bothered about giving away the gold medal, his best achievement till date, as he always did everything for the country.
"I always did everything for my country. I am working as a coach at BKSP declining corporate job offers. My only aim is to bring out some good shooters for the country. I will be happy If I can help a few people," he said.
Earlier, Shakib Al Hasan auctioned his favourite ICC World Cup playing bat for Tk 20 lakh. Two former captains of national cricket team Mushfiur Rahim and Mohammad Ashraful also expressed their willingness to auction their bats for the said noble cause .
Also read: Shakib’s bat sold for Tk 20 lakh
The famous Jersey of two former captains of Bangladesh national football teams - late defender Monem Munna and striker Alfaz Ahmed- are also awaiting for auction for a similar purpose.
The flu-like illness Michael Jordan fought through to lead the Chicago Bulls to a crucial victory in the 1997 NBA Finals created instant fodder for the virtue of perseverance.
Pushing past boundaries, overcoming obstacles and adversity — that is part of the ethos of major competitive sports. That is how elite athletes become wired to win.
It is also in direct conflict with the medical wisdom currently steering society in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Think about Jordan's "Flu Game" through the lens of the pandemic and social distancing. It's jarring.
Seasons have been on pause for weeks with no end in sight. So, too, has the competitive drive of tens of thousands of the world's best athletes, the bottle corked by simple, sobering orders: Back off. Stay home.
"This flew in the face of what they had been taught and socialized to do, which is, 'Let's play,'" said John Tauer, the men's basketball coach and psychology professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.
The safety of the living room replaced the comfort of the arena.
"You really don't know what the next day holds," Buffalo Sabres star Jack Eichel said. "Every morning you wake up, you don't have to go to the rink, you don't have to perform. ... You're just trying to stay busy and keep your mind in a good, healthy place."
Eichel has spent some of his quarantine time reading "The Mindful Athlete," a book by sports psychologist George Mumford, who worked with the Bulls and taught Jordan the art of meditation.
More than two decades later, the brain plays a much bigger role in the way teams teach and guide their performers. Maintaining mental fitness during the pause could be as critical to success as remaining in peak physical condition simply because athletes are facing anxiety in unprecedented ways.
"This may not be a crisis for many of us yet, but it's still a big enough shift from our daily lives where it causes us to reflect and begin to say, 'OK, when you pull something away from me that I identify with, how is this working for me? Is this going the way I want it to?'" said Justin Anderson, team psychologist for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
In an occupation built on physical performance, athletes have a short career window, and opportunities to excel are few. For all the financial cushion many have, the identity loss during the shutdown has been severe. Their most elemental function as an employee has disappeared.
In the NFL, a letter from the league and the players' union sent to players this month included advice on how to deal with the angst, addressing loneliness, stress and other subjects. The global union for soccer players surveyed members and found increased levels of anxiety and depression.
"It's a really strange environment, especially for athletes when they are used to being on the field, used to being in the gym, used to working out every day," said Carlos Bocanegra, Atlanta United's technical director.
College and high school athletes were hit hard, their careers framed by eligibility limits. Last month, when the NCAA shut down all activity, coaches scrambled to keep tabs on their players and keep spirits up.
Tauer's team, ranked fourth in Division III, was supposed to play rival St. John's in the national tournament until it was canceled. In his season-ending speech, he encouraged his players to apply their unique experience of being on a team toward the new reality.
"Let's do what a great teammate does, and that means think about the greater good as opposed to what my immediate wants might be right now," Tauer said.
The Timberwolves made player wellness one of their top priorities when Gersson Rosas took over a year ago as president of basketball operations. He envisioned an innovative, holistic approach to player development to support the pursuit of a championship.
When the pandemic prompted the NBA to suspend the season, the Timberwolves were mired at the bottom of the Western Conference standings. Off the court, however, they were prepared to help keep the team as intact as possible while forced to sequester.
"Long before this happened, we valued certain things that in a crisis become even more apparent and important," said Robby Sikka, the team's vice president for basketball performance and technology. Sikka cited valuing the players' health and nutrition, being player-centric and family oriented from the beginning.
The job created for Sikka — to integrate medical, technological and analytical knowledge and resources for improving wellness off the court and performance on it — has been vital. The week before the league shut down, he warned players, "This will be your 9/11."
Since then, he has helped coordinate player efforts to not only stay in shape with the practice facility closed but make sure mental health needs are being met. He sees it as setting up lifelong coping skills. Anderson has paid particular attention to anxiety management.
"It's not something you either have or you don't have. It's something you develop, much like their shooting percentage or any other skill that they're working on," Anderson said.
Just because they're some of the greatest athletes in the world doesn't mean they don't have flaws.
"At the end of the day, they have families, they have needs, they have challenges, that, if we choose to ignore them, we're choosing to ignore them as individuals," Rosas said. "That's an area where we don't want to fail."