Jakarta: Olympian Dattu Bhokanal, who took repechage route to make it to the Men’s Singles Sculls final in the Asian Games Rowing competition, finished sixth and the last to lay bare Indian rowers’ fortuitous training at the Army Rowing Node (ARN) in Pune.
On the first day of medal races eight gold medals were on offer and Indians figured in five of them with the best finish being No 4 in three events-Double Sculls, Lightweight Four and Pair-all for men.
Rowing so far has at least provided a medal to India since the disastrous 1990 Beijing Asiad where the only medal India won was Kabaddi gold.
The expectations were high this time given that Indian Army and the Sports Authority of India loosened its purse strings whenever needed, either for the exposure trips or getting foreign coach to work with the rowers.
Unfortunately, the standard of Asian rowing, especially from the oarsmen from the nations such as China, South Korea and Japan, which is stupendously preparing its athlete force for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and visible across all sports being competed here, is way above what India had landed here with.
Having an Olympian in the side is no guarantee for a medal as Dattu had to fight hard through repechage to make it to the Men’s Singles Sculls final-the only event that has fetched India’s lone gold medal from rowing. It was in 2010 Games when armyman Bajrang Lal Thakar struck yellow metal for the first time in rowing as Guangzhou Asiad turned out to be Indian rowers’ best outing so far.
Thakar’s medal was no surprise as the oarsman had set the stage for himself four years ago in Doha when he won silver medal in the same event and had vowed to return with a gold in Guangzhou.
Dattu had two years to work on his event after first qualifying for 2016 Rio Olympics, but finished 13th overall-a result that ARN always tried to hide by stating that Dattu won his repechage final, which meant nothing for those who know how rowing results are collated.
At the last Games in Incheon, Sawarn Singh had won bronze medal in single sculls. India had won two more bronze medals for a total of three, one coming from Dushyant Chouhan in Lightweight singles sculls, and another from Coxed Eight team comprising Kapil Sharma, Ranjit Singh, Bajrang Lal Takhar, PU Robin, Sawan Kumar Kalkal, Azad Mohammed, Maninder Singh, Davinder Singh and Ahmed Mohammed-which makes Bajrang the most be-medalled rower from India.
Dattu’s tactics backfires
The Indian began negotiating the 2000m metre course in the most unlikely manner, a mistake that he did in Rio too. Chopping through Lane 5, Dattu was second fastest for the first 500 metres clockinh 1:48.63 to 1:47.76 by the eventual gold medallst Liang Zhang.
Dattu dropped to third place midway through the course clocking 3:41.74 while Zhang (3:37.43) and Dongyong Kim (3:40.23) of Korea surged ahead.
The picture changed totally after the next 500 metres and Duttu got pushed to No 6 and the ever-increasing gap was difficult to catch up in the final stretch of 500 metres.
India’s Rowing medals at Asian Games
1994 Hiroshima 0 0 1
1998 Bangkok 0 0 2
2002 Busan 0 0 1
2006 Doha 0 2 1
2010 Guangzhou 1 3 1
2014 Incheon 0 0 3
(read as gold, silver, bronze)
Singles Sculls: 1. Liang Zhang (Chn) 7 min 25.36; 2. Dongyong Kim (Kor) 7:30.86; 3. Ryuta Arakawa (Jpn) 7:35.29…6. Dattu Bhokanal (Ind) 8:28.56.
Double Sculls: 1. Shakhboz Kholmurzaev and Shakhboz Abdujabborov (Uzb) 6:48.19; 2. Zhiyuan Zhang and Sensen Chen (Chn) 6:48.65; 3. Prem Nampratueng and Jaruwat Saensuk (Tha) 6:49.82; 4. Om Prakash and Swaran Singh (Ind) 6:50.91.
Lightweight Four: 1. China (Xiong Xiong, Fanpu Lyu, Chao Zhao, Xuewu Zhou) 6:28.07; 2. Indonesia (Ali Buton, Ferdiansyah, Ihram, Ardi Isadi) 6:31.08; 3. Uzbekistan (Islambek Mambetnazarov, Shehroz Hakimov, Otamurod Rakhimov, Zafar Usmonov) 6:38.40; 4. India (Bhopal Singh, Jagvir Singh, Tejas Shinde, Pranay Naukarkar) 6:43.20.
Pair: 1. Xiaoxiong Li and Jingbin Zhao (Chn) 7:04.07; 2. Sardo Tulkinkhujaev and Alisher Turdiev (Uzb) 7:06.11; 3. Yoshihiro Otsuka and Yuta Takano (Jpn) 7:10.53; 4. Malkeet Singh and Gurinder Singh (Ind) 7:10.86.
Double Sculls: 1. Yan Jiang and Jingjing Li (Chn) 7:33.55; 2. Seulgi Kim and Yeji Kim (Kor) 7:34.73; 3. Maryam Karami and Parisa Ahmadi (Irn) 7:35.45…6. Sayali Shelke and Pooja (Ind) 8:21.76.
Lightweight Double Sculls: 1. Rohit Kumar and Bhagwan Singh (Ind) 7:14.23; 2. Reza Ghahramanihajibaghlouei and Amirhossein Mahmoodpour (Irn) 7:21.39; 3. Romdhon Mardiana and Mahendra Yanto (Ina)7:27.55.
Four: 1. Vietnam (Thi Hao Dinh, Thi An Tran, Thi Hien Le and Thi Hue Pham) 7:29.34; 2. Indonesia (Chelsea Corputty, Wa Ode Fitri Rahmanjani, Julianti, Yahyah Rokayah) 7:39.81; 3. Myanmar (Ei Phyu, Aye Thuzar, Shwe Zin Latt, Nilar Win) 7:44.19; 4. India (Sanjukta Dung Dung, Annu, Navneet Kaur, Yamini Singh) 7:53.29.