NEARLY a decade ago, Karam Chand, then around six years years old, would see national-level rowers competing in rowing competitions at Sukhna Lake and would tell his father Madan Lal that he wanted to pursue a career in sports.
However, he would initially opt for football at his school GMSS-19 before eventually starting in rowing in 2012. Four years later, 16-year-old Kishangarh resident claimed a bronze medal in sub-junior boys (Single Scull) and a silver medal in Double Scull event for Punjab in the 19th Sub-Junior and 1st Inter-State National Rowing Championships held in Chennai last month.
“Initially, I opted for football at my school as my family could not afford much. It was on the insistence of a friend from Ferozepur that I started rowing in 2012. Initially it was tough as my diet and other expenses would come to Rs 3,000 a month. But winning medals at the Punjab State Championships boosted my confidence. The bronze medal in Single Scull is my first medal at an individual level in a national meet and it means a lot to my family,” said the youngster, who studies in Class XII in Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 19. His father works as a welder in a private firm.
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After he won silver medal for his school team in table soccer also in Chandigarh Inter-School meet in 2012, Karam Chand was part of the Coxless four and pair teams which won silver medals in both events in U-18 and U-15 category in Sub-Junior nationals at Bengaluru in 2014. The youngster also won gold medal in Single Scull event and silver medal in Double Scull in Punjab State Rowing Championships held in October last year at Sukhna Lake. “I won the Single Scull gold also in the Punjab State Championships in May this year and it boosted my confidence ahead of the nationals. I managed my best timing of 1 minute and 40 seconds in the heat before returning with a timing of 1.45 in the final to win the bronze medal in Chennai. We train in tough conditions at Sukhna Lake and the weather here also is different from south India, where the training camps are held. My target now is to win at the junior nationals in Kerala in October,” added Karam Chand.
Training at Sukhna Lake has also meant that the young rower got a chance to meet 2008 and 2012 Olympian and 2010 Asian Games medallist Manjeet Singh and 2014 Asian Games medallist Swaran Singh Virk. “Manjeet paaji and Swaran paaji are my role models and we often ask them for tips. Swaran paaji told me how to move the blade and the nuances of the movement. My friend Gulshan, who is also a medallist in state championships, has helped me a lot apart from senior coach Tejinder Singh and coach Vipin Kamboj,” said Karam Chand.
Father Madan Lal Patial has just returned from Delhi and Tuesday was the first time that Lal saw his son’s medals. “He has done us proud. Yes, it has been tough but rowing is his passion. One day he wants to buy a rowing boat of his own which costs more than Rs 1 lakh and we are sure he will fulfill his dream,” said the proud father.