Silver lining amidst two bronze in sailing

Kirti Patil
Saturday, 1 September 2018

"It’s all about your combination with partner. My partner was extremely good and being a bronze medallist at the last Asian Games, so that was an added advantage". — Sweta Shervegar

Jakarta: ‘Sailors live a lonely life’ is not just a documented phrase—in the open sea one never know what splashes on the face, sails or boat.

At the Ancol Beach Marina, the 49er FX women Indian pair of Varsha Gautham and Sweta Shervegar proved the saying true as they had fought a lonely battle to first get in here, and on Friday the two women won Asian Games silver medal silencing their detractors and the naysayers.

On a fruitful day for India when sailors achieved ‘best ever’ show by winning one silver and two bronze medals, the past medals should be rightly put under shade.

All those enterprisers who won medals in sailing at the past Asian Games since the sport was first introduced in 1970 Bangkok Games, would never like to spell out that the discipline they competed in was a non-Olympic class, always.

So much so that the sailing federation insisted on having non-Olympic class disciplines in Asian Games as most of the Indian sailors were good in Enterprise class sailing than in 49er, Laser class, 470 et all.

With Enterprise class gone this year, the Sailing Federation found itself in a quandary, but nothing could beat the fracas that happened forcing Varsha and Sweta to approach Delhi High Court on funds collected from family and friends before winning a nod to represent India despite having rightfully earned qualification mark.

Theirs is a long story—from rejection by their own federation to approaching court and an unwarranted trial that never happened—even a silver medal failed to provide the calming balm. Senior federation officials who were present at Ancol Beach Marina conveniently gave a miss to the medal ceremony as Varsha and Sweta had won the medal despite the federation’s best effort to prevent them from competing here.

Varsha being a 2014 Incheon bronze medallist meant nothing for the federation when it made every effort to spoil her chances. On Friday though the two scored 4 points to take their total to 44 from 15 races over four days and 40 net points to finish second.

“It has been the best day of my life. Winning an Asian Games medal against all odds and in the conditions that are extremely difficult is really satisfying,” said Varsha Gautham.

Sweta Shervegar said: “the past two months have been very difficult following to our case in High Court. We hardly got time to train and we had to find and fend for our own sponsors and this medal is dedicated to them”.
The gold went to Singapore’s Min Kimberly Lim and Rui Qi Cecilia Low with 15 total points and 14 net points while the bronze went to Thailand’s Nichpa Waiwai and Kamonchanok Klahan, who scored 46.

Harshita wins bronze
If Varsha and Sweta have their own story, Harshita Tomar has a different, but inspiring tale.

Competing in Open Laser 4.7 class, Hoshangabad girl Harshita had already assured herself a bronze before going into the sea on Friday for the final 12th race.

“I had the chance to go for the silver medal, but bronze is also good in a way,” said a beaming 16-year-old Harshita, who scored a total 62 points and 50 net points to finish third.

Muhammad Fauzi Kaman Shah of Malaysia took gold and the bronze went to Jianxiong Wang of China in the only class wherein both men and women compete against each other.

Hers was India’s third medal in sailing on the 13th day of the Games after the men’s pair of Varun Thakkar and Ganapathy Chengappa won bronze in 49er Men. Varun Thakkar and Chengappa totalled 53 after race 15 to beat Omani pair of Issa Al-Habashi Al Kendi and Sulaiyam Al Hadi, on better finished as they too finished with 53 points.

Among other Indian sailors in the fray, Govind Bairagi finished fourth in the Open Laser 4.7, while Nethra Kumanan finished fifth place in Laser Radial Sailing event.

Open Laser 4.7: 1. Muhammad Fauzi Kaman Shah (Mas) 25; 2. Jianxiong Wang (Chn) 66; 3. Harshita Tomar (Ind) 74; 4. Govind Bairagi (Ind) 81.
49er Men: 1. Shingen Furuya and Shinji Hachiyama (Jpn) 49; 2. Bonjin Chae and Dongwook Kim (Kor) 50.5; 3. Varun Thakkar and Ganapathy Chengappa (Ind) 53.
49er FX Women: 1. Min Kimberly Lim and Qi Cecilia Low (Sgp) 15; 2. Varsha Gautham and Sweta Shervegar (Ind) 44; 3. Nichpa Waiwai and Kamonchanok Klahan (Tha) 46.
Laser Radial: 1. Manami Doi (Jpn) 24; 2. Dongshuang Zhang (Chn) 36; 3. Nur Shazrin Latif (Mas) 41…5. Nethra Kumanan (Ind) 65.
Mixed RS One: 1. Hao Chen and Yue Tan (Chn) 42; 2. Rafeek Kikabhoy and Ching Ma Kwan (Hkg) 66; 3. Nuur Fatin Solehah and Illham Wahab (Mas) 113…8. Edgar Agnelo Coelho and Katya Ida Coelho (Ind) 227.

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