Panaji: Goan swimmer Sayed Abdul Zidane would have loved to be at home with his parents. Instead, the 16-year-old Mapusa resident is stuck in Thailand.
Son of former Goa Swimming Association secretary Sayed Abdul, Zidane is now studying and training at the British International High School in Phuket. He was expected to return home for the summer vacations but lockdowns in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic forced him to stay put in Phuket.
“His flight was cancelled on March 18. We were really worried for him,” said his mother Zarine.
Once the Phuket-Goa flight was cancelled, the Sayeds tried to book alternative flights to bring their son home.
“We booked Phuket to Singapore, Singapore to Chennai, Chennai to Hyderabad and Hyderabad to Goa. Zidane would have to change four flights. However, we came to know from a fellow trainee Rihana Shreshta that Zidane would be quarantined for 14 days,” said Zarine.
Rihana and Zidane, a Khelo India scholarship winner in 2017, were trying to return home after finishing school.
“It was sheer luck that Rihana’s mother went to Bengaluru airport and inquired about the status quo. Zidane and Rihana would have had to undergo a 14-day mandatory quarantine period since they were arriving in Chennai,” Abdul said.
The Sayeds are now not sure how soon they will get to see Zidane, although they are secure in the knowledge that he is completely safe in Phuket
“He is safe in the school and we talk to him every day. He has been away for more than two years. But in normal circumstances, it is a different story. In such times, we would have liked him to be home,” said Abdul.
Zidane is training on his own and focussing on his fitness after the authorities stopped swimming activities.
“I can’t train in the water. I am keeping my regular fitness regime on, training on my own. I can’t even imagine what I would have done in India (if quarantined). At least, here I am safe and sound. I guess my parents took the right call by asking us to stay in our school,” said Zidane.
Zidane is climbing up the ranks at the national level after winning a Khelo India scholarship in 2017. He secured admission at the British International School after successful interviews with the principal and coach.