Bajranglal shows the way

Over the years Indians had won nine bronze medals in rowing at the Asian Games. In Doha, it was time to make a quality jump, and Bajranglal Thakar showed the way by winning the silver medal in the single sculls on the final day of the rowing competition.

On the penultimate day of the competition, Bijender Singh and Kiran Yalamanchi won the double sculls bronze. A delighted Indian coach Ismail Baig observed then that it was a great achievement as the Indians had struggled to make an impact in sculling at that level for 16 years. The RFI (Rowing Federation of India) secretary-general, C. P. Singh Deo, who was the vice-president of the jury, said that it was a good sign and that he expected better results on the final day.

His hopes were not belied, as Bajranglal Thakar, followed by the `men's four' team won silver medals to make it a memorable outing for the Indian rowing squad.

Bajranglal, who finished fourth in the men's double sculls, gave a tough fight to the eventual gold medal winner, Eun Chui Shin of Korea, in the single sculls. The Korean had an impressive rate of 40 strokes per minute for most of the 1000-metre race. It was quite creditable that Bajranglal followed him like a shadow and finished just about a second behind the champion.

The fact that the distance of the race was scaled down from 2000 metres suited a lot of rowers, but proved to be a disadvantage for top teams like China. But there was no denying Bajranglal the credit.

"A 2000-metre race is tough. It is easy to compete in 1000m races,'' admitted Bajranglal, 25, who had won the lightweight quadruple sculls gold in the Asian Championship in Hyderabad, India, last year. He had also won both the single and double sculls golds in the SAF Games this year.