India were never in contention for a medal but the 16th-place finish in single sculls and 19th in the lightweight double sculls in the Olympic Games were clear indications of the huge gap the country’s rowers still have with their international counterparts.
Swarn Singh Virk ended 16th in the single sculls while Sandeep Kumar and Manjeet Singh just avoided getting the wooden spoon lightweight double sculls with a 19th-spot finish among 20 participants.
23-year-old Punjab lad Swarn did a decent job by winning a repechage round after finishing fourth in the heats with a personal best effort of 6:54.04 at the Eton Dorney Rowing Centre. He later finished fourth in the quarterfinal round and had to compete for the minor placings races.
Sandeep and Manjeet disappointed from the beginning of their campaign as they finished fourth in the first round heats and then sixth in the repechage. That means they had to compete for the wooden spoon, which they avoided by beating the Egyptian team.
National coach Ismail Baig, though, was a satisfied man at the way his three-member rowing team performed at the Olympics.
“We trained hard for this competition and achieved our target. I am not a person who will offer excuses. When we came we had three objectives — improving the timing, bettering performance level and be very focused in the competition. I think we achieved those objectives. They performed better than expected,” he said.
“Our performance has instilled more confidence and self belief among the rowers. They are now prepared to perform on equal terms at international arena,” said Baig who has been with the rowing team for more than 11 years including being at the helm of affairs for three successive Olympics.
“I think we lived up to the expectations by performing creditably, finishing much ahead of some of the strong teams. And remember 30 countries out of 33 did not win any medal in rowing competition,” he said.
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