CHENNAI: When Indian rowers brought back three medals (1 gold, 2 bronze) from the Asian Games in Jakarta, there was a lot of noise surrounding the future of former foreign coach Nicolae Gioga. The Rowing Federation of India (RFI) was not happy with Gioga’s attitude towards senior Indian coaches and rowers were at times not able to handle his intense training regime. But with the Romanian gone, the RFI has decided to not hire any foreign coaches at least till the World Championships in Austria next year.
In the meantime, national coach Ismail Baig will take care of the seniors, according to RFI president Rajalakshmi Singh Deo. “We were extremely happy with Gioga till June. After that, the athletes were very tired and the timings started to drop. We are grateful that he helped us bag three medals. We will certainly use the training methods that we have learnt from him. But we want more. Ismail has been with us for a very long time and knows what works best for Indian rowers and we will stick with him,” Rajalakshmi said.
The rowers will continue to train at the Army Rowing Node in Pune. Pune will also host the senior nationals in December. But a location for long distance training is still a problem — an issue that affected performance levels of some of the rowers in Jakarta.
The junior men and women rowers are training at the Hussain Sagar lake facility in Hyderabad and there is no space for accommodating more athletes according to Rajalakshmi. “We have not yet decided on where to go for ling-distance training. It is certainly on our mind and we will make sure that the athletes are well prepared for international events,” she said. Right before the World Championships, the federation is planning to go for an exposure trip to Italy for four weeks in May 2019.
Ismail, who has been the coach since 2004, is hoping to start fresh and wants to concentrate more on the Asian Championships that will happen soon after the World Championship. “The athletes are all tired. But in Jakarta, we saw the potential and we know that with the right guidance, Indian rowers can win more medals at the Asian level,” Ismail said.