Sambist Michael Raso is balancing his time between training and working in a psychiatric ward ©FIAS

Italian sambo athlete Michael Raso has taken a break from training in his sport to work in one of the biggest hospitals in Turin in a psychiatric ward.

Raso, a psychiatric nurse in his professional career, has limited time to do training at home in the country which is one of the worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The five-time national sambo champion has said he is struggling to keep up with his training in the small apartment that he shares with girlfriend and fellow sambist Alice, having been quarantined since March 8.

Raso said: "The lockdown itself has changed my everyday life but not my focus or goals.

"As a nurse I understood that the lockdown was the only solution to keep under control people and stop the infections, but as an athlete I feel angry, because my training programme and the competitions have changed completely."

He does admit due to the type of healthcare he works in, not much has changed during the crisis, except the extra precautions that he has to undertake.

Raso also has to make sure he is available on his days off to work in the COVID-19 ward if necessary, with 194 people dying today in Italy - one of the highest daily rates in the world.

He added: "The statistics are slowly getting better every day, but the crisis is not ending soon.

"We try to take advantage of any spare time to keep training and learn something."

There are more than 218,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Italy, resulting in the deaths of over 30,000 people.