Tokyo Olympics: Arvind Singh, Arjun Lal Jat set for 'extreme' conditions in India's rowing medal bid

India's Olympics-bound rowers Arvind Singh and Arjun Lal Jat face a daunting task of countering the rough waters as they carry its hopes of a rowing medal.

Rowers Arvind Singh (left ) and Arjun Lal (right) with coach Ismail Baig (centre) at the Army Rowing Node in Pune.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The sons of the soil – rowers Arvind Singh (Uttar Pradesh) and Arjun Lal Jat (Rajasthan) - face the biggest challenge of countering the rough waters when they carry India’s hopes of rowing in lightweight double sculls category at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

Interestingly, the two get up every morning at the Army Rowing Node in Pune where they have been training, seeing the notice board on which they have written their target – 2022 Asian Games gold!

For the two rowers, who were handpicked by the chief national coach Ismail Baig only two years ago to compete in double sculls, it has been a truly remarkable journey to the Olympics.

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Arvind says the first target when he started rowing was to clinch the Asian Games gold in 2018.

“So, in the process of preparing for that, we have been training really well thanks to Ismail Sir and honestly I was hoping to make the cut for Tokyo in the qualifiers in May this year in Tokyo,” he said.

“We didn’t have any problem in adapting to the conditions which were quite okay then but are told will be different for the Games competition – more rough and extremely challenging,” Arvind said.

“Well, the preparations are going really well at the Army Rowing Node in Pune in a bio-bubble for the last few months with three sessions daily,” he said.

“Frankly, the whole emphasis is not just on the Olympics but on the Worlds, the Asian championships which follow it and then the 2022 Asian Games and we are determined to write a new chapter in Indian rowing,” says a confident Arvind.

“There is absolutely no pressure on us. We will just go there and try to give our best for sure. We won’t talk big. But, we will not be short of effort and commitment,” he said.

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For his part, Arjun insists the focus in training sessions has been to improve the timings and doing a lot of strengthening exercises.

“We clocked an impressive 6:36.92 in the Olympic qualifiers to make it to the Games. And, we have been targetting  much better timings,” he said.

“Well, being the first Olympics for both of us, we are definitely excited as not many get the chance to be there,” Arjun said.

For his part, coach Ismail Baig is more pragmatic in his approach to the Games. “Our first target is to make it to the B-final featuring the top 12 teams and then look ahead. We don’t want to invite any sort of pressure,” he said.

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“Yes, the rough waters of the course, which is very close to the sea, are a major challenge for Indian rowers as we have been training on flat waters in Pune. And, unfortunately, we cannot move out to any other centre in India because of the strict quarantine rules,” Ismail Baig explained.

“All we are hoping is for the weather and conditions to be similar at least to that prevalent during the Olympic qualifiers,” he said.

“But again, given the chemistry both Arjun and Arvind have been showing is something which might just see them pull off something special,” the national coach said.

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