Indian rowers kept up India’s medal rush on day 6 of the Asian Games. Sawarn Singh Virk secured the third spot in single sculls to give India her second bronze from the lake before India picked up the bronze in the men’s eights category as well.
On the last day of rowing held at ChungjuTangeum Lake International Rowing Centre, India had strong hopes for gold as Sawarn Singh Virk led for the 1st km of the race but fatigue and exhaustion towards the end cost him the gold as well as the silver. Nevertheless the 24-year-old Armyman can be proud of his performance as he had to battle severe back injury for the last six months yet managed to come away with a medal.
The gutsy effort saw him clock 7 minutes 10.65 seconds which was even faster than the 7 minutes 29.66 seconds that he had achieved at the London Olympics two years ago. Perhaps familiarity with the venue helped him as Sawarn reached the semi-finals of the 2013 World Championships at this very place.
Sawarn set the pace early and led the field till the 1st km after which eventual gold medallist Mohsen Shadinaghadeh of Iran took over from him. Sawarn looked headed for the silver medal till late in the race. But it was a sudden burst of speed from the Korean rower Dongyong that snatched the silver away from the Indian and Sawarn had to be content with just the bronze.
Sawarn was so worn out after the race that he collapsed and fell from his boat and had to be rescued by the emergency team.
Sawarn later rued that his back problem hampered his chances of doing even better. “I feel I would have done better had I not lost some training time due to the back problem I picked up a few months ago.” said Sawarn.
The men’s eight team too put up a very measured performance that helped them win the bronze behind China and Japan. The Indian team comprising Kapil Sharma, Ranjit Singh, Bajrang Lal Takhar, P U Robin, K Sawan Kumar, Mohammad Azad, Maninder Singh, Davinder Singh and Mohammed Ahmed were trailing in fourth place halfway through the race.
But they accelerated at the right time and with the right intensity raced away to the bronze in 5:51.84.
For Bajrang Lal Takhar, this was his second straight Asiad medal as he had won the singles scull gold at the last edition in Guangzhou.
India returned empty-handed in two other rowing finals though. In men’s double sculls, Om Prakash and Dattu Bhokanal were within sniffing distance of the third place but were pipped to the post towards the finish line. The Indian pair finished eventually at the 5th place clocking 6:37.02.
In men’s lightweight quadruple sculls final, the quartet of Rakesh Raliya, Vikram Singh, Sonu Laxmi Narain, Shokendar Tomar finished fifth achieving a time of 6:16.05.
With these performances, India finished with three rowing medals from the Asian games. While the performance of the rowers was better in the previous Asiad, with a little bit of luck and good health, India could have won a couple of golds.Hence it is not all gloom and doom and one looks forward to following the promising careers of dushyant and sawarn.