Indian rower Dattu Bhokanal has qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics in men’s singles sculls by virtue of his second-place finish from a field of 20 competitors in the final of the FISA Asian and Oceania Olympic qualification regatta in Chungju (Korera), according to India’s chief national rowing coach and Dronacharya Award winner Ismail Baig.

Bhokanal started rowing in August 2012 at the BEG Centre, Kirkee (Pune), before moving to ARN Pune a year later. He made a huge impact on the national scene, winning two gold medals in the 33rd National Rowing Championship, representing Services. He later went on to represent India in the 17th Asian Games in Korea and also the 16th Asian Championship in China, where he won a silver medal in men’s singles sculls.

The 25-year-old rower from Nasik comes from a humble background. He got his break after joining the Army.

A visibly delighted Ismail Baig said that Bhokanal’s qualification is a fantastic achievement given that he started rowing only four years ago. "He has the talent, grit and determination to go places. The best part is that he always tries to keep improving,” the chief coach said.

"It is remarkable that an Indian rower will be there in the Olympics for the fifth straight edition since the 2000 Sydney Games. This is great news for the Indian rowing fraternity itself,” said Ismail.

“I am really grateful to the RFI for all the support over the years,” he added.

However, in the lightweight men’s doubles sculls, represented by Vikram Singh and Roopendra Singh, the Indians failed to make the cut for the Olympics.