Bajrang Lal Thakkar can well be the inspirational figure for the Indian rowing squad preparing for the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games.
For, this former Army rower, who trained in the murky waters of the Hussain Sagar Lake in Hyderabad, happens to be the only gold medallist from India in Asiad rowing — winning the men’s single sculls 2000m race clocking 7 minutes, 4.78 seconds in the 2010 Guangzhou edition.
Looking back at that golden moment, the 37-year-old Bajrang — now settled in Jaipur post retirement from the Army and in the process of unearthing talent in his hometown where he feels rowing activity has come to a halt after the 1982 Asian Games in Delhi — says that the gold was not just his finest moment, but also a huge thing for Indian rowing.
“Those moments when the national anthem was played when I was standing on the medal podium are frozen in memory. Truly unforgettable and which was the result of all the hard work of the coaches led by Ismail Sir (Dronacharya Ismail Baig), the Rowing Federation of India officials headed by CPS Deo Sir, and my fellow-rowers,” he explains in a chat with Sportstar.
“I must remind people now that I had to row with an old boat since the boats which were to come from Germany for the Asiad didn’t land as expected. We are grateful to Deo Sir for arranging boats from Pune immediately,” he says.
“I was always confident of winning the gold, having won three Asian championships gold before that Asiad. The only worry was the possibility of any one of those regular competitors peaking. So, it all depended on how well I was focussed and I am glad that I pulled it off,” he says.
“Definitely, now there is more focus from the government side to the rowers, the training methods have become more scientific and advanced. We are a force to reckon with in the Asian Continent,” says Bajrang, who earlier won a silver in the 2006 Doha Asiad.
“There is a lot of change for the good in Indian rowing and there is abundance of talent too. And, I just pray that India will bag another gold in Jakarta and also return with the best-ever medal haul,” he concludes.
As told to V. V. Subrahmanyam
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