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No Outdoor Jogs for Finnish Boxer Mira Potkonen in Delhi's Pollution

Finnish boxer Mira Potkonen said on Thursday she would train indoors to avoid Delhi's notorious smog as other athletes in the Indian capital for the world championships fret about their health.

AFP

Updated:November 13, 2018, 7:35 PM IST
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No Outdoor Jogs for Finnish Boxer Mira Potkonen in Delhi's Pollution
File image of Mira Potkonen. (Image: AFP)
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Finnish boxer Mira Potkonen said on Thursday she would train indoors to avoid Delhi's notorious smog as other athletes in the Indian capital for the world championships fret about their health.

Potkonen, an Olympic bronze medallist, said competitors in Delhi for the AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships would "just need to adjust" to life in the world's most polluted major city.

"Let's say if this competition would have been in some other place then I would have gone for a jog outside but now I concentrate on my boxing training," the 37-year-old told reporters in Delhi.

"I try not to stay outside for too long. We have an excellent gym in the hotel, the air conditioner and the air in the gym is very good. So we tend to train there as much as we can."

Potkonen -- who finished third in the 2016 Rio Olympics in the 60 kg category -- said Finland had "the cleanest air in the world" and it would be an adjustment keeping fit in Delhi.

Air pollution soars in the city of 20 million during winter as cooler air traps harmful particles close to the ground.

Car exhaust, factory emissions, construction dust and smoke from crop fires blends into a toxic fug that aggravates the throat and eyes and can cause heart and lung damage over long-term exposure.

Levels of the smallest and most harmful PM2.5 particles touched 380 -- more than 15 times safe limits -- on Tuesday, according to the US embassy which monitors air quality independently.

'Hard to Train'

Potkonen has more experience than some, competing in Delhi in January where she won the Indian Open in smoggy climes.

But others have been critical of the decision to hold the 10th edition of the women's championships in Delhi during winter, when pollution soars to hazardous highs.

"We don't feel good. Air here is the worst air from everywhere. It's hard to train here," said Bulgaria's Stanimara Petrova, the 2014 world champion in the 57 kg category.

But Indian boxing champ MC Mary Kom said she usually had to adjust to freezing weather and snow when travelling abroad in November for the world meet.

"We catch cold as we don't have the experience to survive there," said the five-time world champion of her fellow Indian athletes.

"People who are reaching (Delhi) today or tomorrow, maybe they have a problem. It's better to go 5 or 10 days before to adjust... that's the fight, it's not only in the ring."

India's boxing federation president Ajay Singh played down the risk, saying he hoped the air pollution would "clear out" in coming days.

"It's not such a massive issue that it is really made out to be," he said.

"Firstly, boxing is an indoor sport and we have the best indoor facilities in the world, and therefore there won't be any huge repercussions."

The WHO in May listed 14 Indian cities, including Delhi, in the world's top 15 with the dirtiest air.
| Edited by: Shayne Dias
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