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Monkey off our shoulders by reaching semis, says Ismail Baig, national rowing coach

In the two race semifinals, six top finishers will compete for the finals A/B. The first six will fight for the medals and four to six finishes, the remaining six will again compete for a position between 7 and 12.

Written by SS Manoj |
Updated: July 27, 2021 11:26:31 pm
Tokyo: Indian rowing team Arjun Lal and Arvind Sing during a training session ahead of Tokyo Olympics. (PTI)

Rowers Arvind Singh and Arjun Lal are quietly doing India proud at Sea Forest Waterway, a 30-minute drive from Tokyo Olympic Village.

The Indians should have completed their mission Tokyo Olympics by now but the race was rescheduled due to expected adverse weather conditions on Tuesday. A tropical storm was expected to make landfall near Tokyo but now the organisers are mulling to hold the remaining stages of the rowing events in the next three days.

After a one-day break, the semifinals A/B will now be held on Wednesday and finals A/B on the next two days. Arvind, 25, and Arjun, 24, from the Indian Army, set records by becoming the first Indian rowers to reach the semifinals and on Wednesday they will ‘battle’ for a top place in lightweight men’s double sculls finals A/B. In the 2008 Beijing Games, Manjeet Singh and Devender Singh Khandwal finished 18th while in the 2016 Rio Games, Dattu Baban Bhokanal was ranked 13th but in the single sculls.

“Our rowers are battle-ready. Finally, we got the monkey off our shoulders by reaching the semifinals which were our first target before we boarded the flight to Tokyo,” Ismail Baig, the national rowing coach told indianexpress.com from Tokyo on Tuesday evening. In the six-team semifinals, India have been drawn with 2019 world champions, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Ukraine and Belgium.

India, Ukraine and Uruguay are the teams considered not from rowing nations while the first two reached the semifinals via repechage on Sunday. The Indian duo clocked 6:51.36 to finish in third place.

In the two-race semifinals, six top finishers will compete for the finals A/B. The first six will fight for the medals and four to six finishes, the remaining six will again compete for a position between 7 and 12.

“Now that pressure is off, we’ll do our best in the semifinals too. We have been drawn to lane number six, a side lane. If the crosswind comes from the side lane it will be tough for us. In the first competition, we’re drawn in the first while in the other two we’re in the other side lanes. In the first, wind favoured us while in the other two it was against us and our rowers did well against all odds,” the Dronacharya awardee said.

“We face the toughest challenge from Ireland while other European countries are equally tough,” he signed off.

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