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Saturday, September 18, 2021

‘2022 Asian Games medal is the next target’: Indian rowers after clinching historic 11th place

In the 6-team men’s lightweight double sculls final, Arjun and Arvind became the first Indians to take an honourable position in Olympic Games.

Written by SS Manoj |
Updated: July 29, 2021 1:46:47 pm
Arjun Lal jat and Arvind SinghArjun Lal Jat and Arvind Singh of India react after competing. (REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw)

Rowers Arjun Lal Jat and Arvind Singh kept their word by finishing 11th in the final B event of the men’s lightweight double sculls at the Tokyo Olympics rowing events on Thursday.

The duo bettered their target of reaching the semifinals early this week. In the final B race for positions from 7 to 12, the Indian Army pair of Arjun (the bower) and Arvind (the stroker) produced the best-ever Olympic performance with a time of 6:29.66 at Sea Forest Waterway on Thursday. The two had finished fifth in their heats on Saturday to enter the semis.

The earlier Olympic performances by Indians were: 18th position by Manjeet Singh and Devender Singh Khandwal in the 2008 Beijing Games and 13th place by Dattu Baban Bhokanal in the single sculls at Rio Games in 2016.

“We’re happy with the performances of Arvind and Arjun. We did well by finishing 11th overall in the Olympics and it will be the new benchmark for Indian rowers in future,” Ismail Baig, the national coach, told indianexpress.com from Tokyo on Thursday after the final show.

The duo bettered their target of reaching the semifinals early this week. (PTI)

Ireland’s Fintan McCarthy and Paul O’Donovan won the gold and were followed by Germany (Jonathan Rommelmann, Jason Osborne) and Italy (Stefano Oppo, Pietro Ruta). Czech Republic, Belgium, Uruguay, Spain, Poland, Ukraine, Canada were the others who were ahead of India while Norway who did not start, were placed 12th.

Ireland who clocked 6:05.33 in the semifinal B, in which Indians too figured, set both the new World and Olympic timings.

“Look at the Olympic qualifiers. Apart from India, Uruguay and to an extent Ukraine, the rest are rowing nations. So the boys did exceptionally well,” the Dronacharya awardee stressed.

What next? The coach insisted the rowers will be given a month’s break as they have been training hard for the past three years and without a break since December 2019. “Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, they were at the training base in Pune. We will assemble in September and work hard for the 2022 Asian Games to be hosted by Hangzhou in China. After that, it will be the 2024 Paris Olympics. We have another 40 rowers in Pune, out of which 12 will be given specialised training for 2022 Asiad and 2024 Olympics,” Dronacharya awardee coach Baig.

Arvind, 26, hailing from Uttar Pradesh and Arjun, 25, of Rajasthan echoed their coach’s sentiments. “Tokyo and the Olympics are over for us. We have set our new target too. It will be a podium finish in 2022 Asiad,” Arvind and Arjun said. The team also thanked SAI, Rowing Federation of India for their support. “Without that (support), we would not have performed so well,” they said.

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