Tokyo-bound Vismaya bakes away lockdown blues

Vismaya says the forced break has made her more confident in the kitchen.

Young athlete V K Vismaya has been one of the sportspersons who has used the lockdown to hone her culinary skills.

An integral part of India’s 4x400m mixed relay team which won the silver medal at the Asian Athletics Championship held in Doha in 2019, the 23-year-old hailing from Eruvessi in Kannur district says the forced break has made her more confident in the kitchen.

Life has not been easy over the last five months for the lanky runner. She has had to undergo COVID-19 testing over thirty times during the period. "It had my parents worried. After each test, they would call me and ask whether I was fine. They would heave a sigh of relief when I tell them my samples returned negative. I'm thankful that I have managed to keep the dreaded virus at bay so far," says Vismaya, who is currently preparing for the Tokyo Olympics scheduled to begin on July 23.

She was a member of India’s 4x400m mixed relay team which made it to the final of the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships at Doha and sealed an Olympic spot in the process.

Lockdown cooking

"I have been training at the national camp in Patiala ever since the first lockdown was imposed. As the athletes were not allowed to step out of the campus, we decided to enter the kitchen and try our hand at cooking. Soon, the aroma of freshly baked cakes started wafting through the hostel rooms. We celebrated birthdays with self-made cakes and tried to experiment with newer recipes. I have also learned to make a variety of pickles. We even prepared a sumptuous sadya for last year's Onam. Seeing our cooking skills, the hostel management allowed us to prepare food at the canteen for a day. We made dosas for breakfast, lunch and dinner and everybody appreciated the effort. My mother was stunned to hear of my kitchen experiments. 

Hindi lessons

I have been learning Hindi ever since I reached the camp. I could read and write Hindi before, but now I can speak the language pretty well. As there are lots of Malayalees around, I have to make extra efforts to improve my Hindi speaking skills. Another pastime was making TikTok videos with Poovamma chechi (M R Poovamma) and other teammates.

Double delight

Two good things have happened in my life over the past one year. I received a job offer from Bank of India. The interview and other formalities have been completed. Yet, I'm waiting for the job promised by the Kerala government. I hope the authorities will keep their word. I really want to settle in Kerala. We shifted to a new house during the lockdown period. The house-warming ceremony was held in March, but I could not attend it. Having lived in a rented home since childhood, I'm excited to go to my new abode.

Olympic dream beckons

I had been eagerly waiting for the Olympics and do well in the 4x400m mixed relay event when the Games was postponed due to the pandemic. I felt sad and dejected. Subsequently, many competitions that would have helped us fine-tune our Olympics preparations were cancelled. Due to a leg injury, I could not perform well in the Federation Cup. We have also missed the recently held World Athletics Relays in Poland due to the ban on passenger flights from India. Going by the current situation, the chances of attending training camps or competitions abroad is bleak now. However, I'm staying positive and working hard to do my best at the Olympics."

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