Scrutiny on foreign coach after rowers’ ‘below-par performance’

Girish Phadnis, secretary general, Rowing Federation of India, questioned the extreme coaching methods of Romanian Gioga.

Indian rowers B. Singh, Jagvir Singh, T. H. Shinde and P. G. Naukarkar after going down in the men’s lightweight four competition on Friday.   -  PTI

The below-par performance from the Indian rowing contingent at the Asian Games — the group fell well short of its seven-medal target — could lead to the sacking of technical director Nicolai Gioga.

Girish Phadnis, secretary general, Rowing Federation of India, told PTI that a meeting will be called soon to review the Asian Games performance. Serious questions have been raised about the extreme coaching methods of Romanian Gioga, who took charge in December.

“On a day when India won a rowing gold, it is unfortunate we are talking about all this. It was a below-par performance. There is no doubt about that. We missed at least three medals,” Phadnis told PTI.

‘Worrying’

“Questions have been raised about the radical changes in the training methods (of Gioga). We will soon decide the best way forward. For me the most worrying thing is that after finishing the race, our rowers are falling ill. I have not seen that before,” said Phadnis, who himself is a former rower.

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Dushyant Chauhan had to be given oxygen and a glucose drip after he gave it his all to seal a bronze in the lightweight single sculls. He was rushed to the medical centre from the medal ceremony as he was struggling to stand before vomiting.

Similar scenes were witnessed after the lightweight eight race in which India finished fourth. Rower Jagvir Singh needed medical attention right after the race and he couldn’t breathe properly. Both Dushyant and Jagvir were severely dehydrated.

‘I was gone’

“I pushed as if it was the last race of my life. I had a bad cold and throat in the run up to the event, that also affected me a lot during the race. I was gone,” said Dushyant, who had not eaten much in the morning ahead of the race as they have to maintain their weight (72kg).

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Long time chief coach Ismail Baig also questioned the training methods of Gioga. After the Romanian’s arrival, the rowers don’t work out in the gym anymore and have stopped using the ergometer. “When the foreign coach comes, we give him full control. [But] I disagree with his methods for Indian rowers. They should do gym and spend some time in the ergometer. It has been a disappointing campaign. We missed out on many sure shot medals. His methods may work for Europeans but are not working for Indians,” said Baig.

‘Too many health issues’

Gioga, on his part, said he found the Indian rowers unfit. “They have too many health issues. Sometimes they have pain in the neck, other times in the butt. They fall sick easily. I want to destroy them (by making them push so hard) but I am not able to. Because their health is not in great shape,” Gioga had told PTI a day before the start of competition here.