Rowers Arjun Jat and Arvind Singh were out of contention for an Olympic medal but created history by becoming the first Indian double sculls pair to make it to the semifinals at the Olympics. The two achieved the feat in Tokyo on Sunday.

"This is the greatest day of my coaching career," exclaimed coach Ismail Baig.

"Our first target was to finish between 10th and 14th, and we are close to finishing 12th now. This is a remarkable performance given the extremely tough draw," Ismail told Sportstar .

India's previous best in men's double sculls was the 18th- place finish by Manjeet Singh and Sandeep Kumar in London 2012.

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"I told the boys to target one team - Uruguay - and they were able to do it in the last 200m of the race and be in this position," he said.

"We take pride in being the toppers from Asia and rank alongside the best from the other continents," said Ismail.

"There will be two semifinals in the A and B groups and three teams from each will make it to the final. We are hoping for the best even though it is really challenging. Honestly, reaching this far is itself a huge achievement," he added.

"The weather was extremely hot but the water was comfortable for rowing. In fact, Sunday's race was originally scheduled for tomorrow but rescheduled because of a cyclone forecast," said Ismail.

"There will be no competition on Monday and even training looks doubtful," he said.

Ismail and his wards, who have created a storm, can take pride in reaching where no Indians have.

Personal best

Rowing Federation of India secretary-general M.V. Sriram said in a statement on Wednesday that the Indian rowers Arvind Singh and Arjun Lal Jat clocked their personal best time of 6:24.41 in the semifinal-A of the lightweight men’s doubles sculls event at the Sea Forest Water Day in Tokyo Olympics.

“Rowing very hard against seasoned double scullers from Ireland, Italy, Belgium, Ukraine and Spain, they were keeping close to each other, with very little distance separating the boats up to the 1500-meter mark,” the RFI official said.

“It could have been anybody’s race. At about this point a very strong breeze picked up and adversely affected the last lane 6, in which Arvind and Arjun were rowing, thereby putting them at a definitive stress,” Sriram said.

“Notwithstanding this, they fought very hard to finish strong and clocked a personal best time. Now, they move on to
the Final ‘B’ to battle for positions against Ukraine, Spain, Poland, Canada and Norway,” he said.