Rowing: Going for six!

India’s rowing squad hopes to improve on its previous Asian Games performances — three bronze medals at the 2014 edition, and a gold for Bajrang Lal, three silvers and one bronze at the 2010 Games.

Bajrang Lal Takhar of India celebrates with the gold medal he won in the men's single sculls rowing final at the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.   -  AP Photo

The rowing squad of 34 members for the Asian Games is the third largest contingent for any sport from India and, quite naturally, it hopes to improve on its previous performances — three bronze medals at the 2014 edition and a gold for Bajrang Lal, three silvers and one bronze at the 2010 Games.

“The preparations have been really good and the results too are very encouraging in the trials at the Army Rowing Node in Pune where the Indian team has been preparing for the Asiad since January under the guidance of the 66-year-old foreign coach, Romanian Nicolae Gioga, and the chief national coach Ismail Baig,” said C. P. S. Deo, chairman of the coaches commission of the Rowing Federation of India.

Deo said India will compete in 11 men’s events in eight categories — single sculls, double sculls, quadruple sculls, coxless pairs, lightweight single sculls, lightweight double sculls, coxless lightweight fours and coxed lightweight eights — while seven women will vie for honours in the double sculls, coxless pairs and coxless fours.

“Weather-wise, the conditions should be similar to Pune in Palembang where the Asiad rowing competitions begin on August 19. But it seems the lake has been extended and hence I’m not sure of the conditions on the rowing course,” Deo said. “Apparently, when the rowers cross the artificial portion of the course, there should be strong winds, but again this will be the same factor for all the competitors. “We are targeting six medals this time around though, as always, rowers from China, Indonesia and Uzbekistan are expected to pose the toughest challenge for us,” he added.

Coach Baig said that since the rowers have been training for close to nine months now, the mood is upbeat as all issues which matter to produce better results have been duly addressed. “Mr Nicolae is doing a fabulous job and the best part is the rowers are enjoying his presence. We don’t want to talk big about our chances, but we are definitely better prepared than (we were) for the last edition, when some changes in races were made at the last minute, proving to be a huge disadvantage to the Indian rowers,” he said.

Squad
Men’s: Baban Bhokanal Dattu, Om Prakash, Sukhmeet Singh, Malkeet Singh, Gurinder Singh, Monu, Arjun Lal Jat, Dushyant, Rohit Kumar, Bhagwan Singh, Bhopal Singh, Jegan Sekar, Tejas Hanamant Shinde, Jagvir Singh, Akshat, Pranay Ganesh Naukarkar, Rahul Giri, Lucky, Pandurang Dhanaji Mohite, Sumit, Hardeep Singh, Manish Yadav, Lakshman Rohith Maradapa, Sawarn Singh, Sonu Laxmi Narain, Manpreet Singh, Arvind Singh
Women’s: Pooja, Yamini Singh, Navneet Kaur, Harpreet Kaur, Sanjukta Dung Dung, Annu and Sayali Rajendra Shelake