Indian rowers redeem themselves

Indian rowers redeem themselves

ECSTATIC: Sawarn Singh, Bhokanal Dattu, Om Prakash and Sukhmeet Singh (from left) celebrate after winning the quadruple sculls gold at the Asian Games on Friday. PTI

Desperate times brought the best out of the Indian rowers as they won the gold in men’s quadruple sculls with a fighting performance at the JSC Lake in Palembang on Friday.

The Indian quartet of Sawarn Singh, Dattu Bhokanal, Om Prakash and Sukhmeet Singh won the coveted title after finishing ahead of Indonesia and Thailand in the final. The Indians timed 6:17.13, coming home well ahead of the hosts, who clocked 6:20.58. Thailand were further back in 6:22.41.

The Indians were under fire after they failed to win a single medal on Thursday, the first day of the final. Dattu, especially, was the man under tremendous pressure after it was felt that he gave up trying at one point in the final of the single sculls.

But after an overnight team talk, the men were a rejuvenated lot on the concluding day. India had two other bronze medals as well, with Dushyant Chauhan finishing third in the light weight single sculls and Rohit Kumar and Bhagwan Singh also coming third in the lightweight double sculls.

Prior to these Games, India had won only one gold — through Bajrang Lal Thakar in the single sculls in 2010 — in Asian Games rowing, besides a clutch of silver and bronze medals. The haul at Incheon was just three bronze but the expectations were higher this time and after Thursday’s show, the pressure too was higher.

“Fifty percent of the competition was over yesterday and such a situation had never happened in my life,” said Indian coach Ismail Baig. “The rowers were all upset about that show and they vowed to do better today. They were tired. Four of the three had competed yesterday also but they said will bounce back today and they did.”

Baig was the man in tears as the Tricolour went up for the first time in rowing at Guangzhou 2010. Reminded of that, the coach responded. “I was crying yesterday and I was crying today also but there is a difference. One gold is equal to ten bronze medals.”

Contemplating a change

The Indians contemplated a change in the team for the crucial race, with the thought focused around replacing Dattu. But finally, it was decided to stick with the experienced man and he delivered. 

In the lightweight singles sculls, Dushyant timed 7:18.76 to come behind Park Hyunsu of South Korea (7:12.86) and Chiu Hin Chun of Chinese Taipei (7:14.16). Spent by the effort, Dushyant vomited soon after the medal ceremony and had to be put on drips and given oxygen. “The last 200 metres of the race, I don’t remember what really happened,” he said later.

Rohit and Bhagwan timed 7:04.61 in the lightweight double sculls. Japan’s Masayuki Miyaura and Masahiro Takeda took the gold in 7:01.70 while the silver went to Kim Byunghoon and Lee Minhyuk of South Korea in 7:03.22.

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