CHENNAI: Nicolae Gioga came to India with a huge reputation, having won multiple gold medals at the Olympics and other continental events. It is too early to say that the Romanian is starting to live up to it, but he has certainly started making a mark.
At the Army Rowing Node in Pune, a probable team of 34 men and 12 women are going through rigorous training regimes that they have never done so far, as they warm up for the upcoming Asian Games in Jakarta. The camp, that started on January 8, will go on till the first week of June when the squad will be announced.
“He is totally focussed on the Asian Games. He has brought in a lot of changes to the training methods. For the youngsters, this is the first time that they are going through such routines. But the experienced rowers who are not used to his methods are finding it difficult. But they are all working hard. He is looking for rowers with specific traits. We will have to wait and see if all this will bear fruit,” Rajlaxmi Singh Deo, president of the Rowing Federation of India, said.
In order to test the skill of rowers, the 66-year-old Romanian is placing all of them in a single scull to analyse their strengths and weaknesses.
Gioga is also a fan of young talents and is pushing for proper scouting at different levels with Tokyo 2020 in mind. While familiar names like Dattu Baban Bhokanal, Sawarn Singh and Dushyant Chauhan are all a part of the camp in Pune, Gioga won’t shy away from giving amateurs a chance at the Asian Games.
“Since he arrived last year, he has been observing the junior and senior national championships in Odisha and Pune. Apart from the usual medal winners, he has high hopes for four or five fresh talents who he thinks can perform better in the future than the current medallists,” Rajlaxmi told Express.
While exposure trips are a major part of India’s preparations for any international event, the Romanian has chosen not to go for such trips.
“According to him, there is very little time. He doesn’t want the rowers to feel tired. Also, that way, there will be a surprise element when the team reaches Jakarta.”