Format throws a lifeline,Virk grabs it with both hands

Punjab Sculler Wins the Repechage round to make the quarterfinals

Written by Shivani Naik | London | Published: July 30, 2012 1:53:04 am

Famished for the big stage,Indian rower Swarn Singh Virk is having the time of his life,with his wide eyes picking up minute details of the big hunks of rowing. He’s not one of them in size or stature. But hungry for a chance to go up against them at a stage nothing less than Olympics,is driving Virk to give it his all.

The 23-year-old finished his repechage with a comfortable two boat length margin,topping the five-scullers race,and taking immense confidence from that despite his timing not being as great as on Day 1.

“I just look around everywhere and pick so many small-small details about preparation from all the greats around here. It’s a treat,” he says,learning to not be star-struck by the Big Kiwi Mahe Drysdale,who apparently turned in his direction and said a cheery ‘hi’,and walked by. “I’m getting used to being an international rower,” Virk says.

Here is a boy who hasn’t had to battle the extraneous worries like age-old equipment or lack of support. Not that rowing is teeming with funds,but since 2010 when Bajrang Lal Takhar won the Asiad gold — boats have been decent,no frills,just basically in good shape,shipped from abroad. Training too has picked up,though it remains at least a decade behind the top rowing nations.

“I don’t like complaining. Rowing takes too much energy to start cribbing. I’m lucky to get a lot of equipment that my seniors didn’t. Now it’s my job to perform,” says the sprightly young man. Boats this time were hired locally,and Swarn is enjoying Eton’s unique posh public school hospitality,where dorms don’t mean dirty dungeons.

“It’s different from living in the Games village,but I like this,” he says,keen on catching up with hockey and tennis players. “I’ll walk up to them and introduce myself,” he simply says.

Biggest test

Swarn’s biggest test comes in the quarters where he will definitely be one of the least accomplished of scullers. “It’s about few chances. I won’t get this again soon,so I don’t want to mess up by being nervous,” says the facile plodder,who is happily clocking 25-28 strokes per minute and plans to go all out unleashing his power in the knockouts — quarters on Tuesday.

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