BANGALORE: Heard of defence sports personnel winning titles or excelling in soft sports? Very rarely. But talk of tougher disciplines and they are in the forefront. Most of India’s long-distance runners, including the marathon, hail from the Services. Talented boxers glove out of Defence schools in a torrent. Talk of horse polo and no better place than the Services units to mount those trained horses. And their accomplishments are not just confined to terrestrial sports.
Air races are few and far between, if at all. Yet, they are in the cockpit when one does take place. And the Media Centre for an air race will probably be on Cloud Nine. But the Services are also dominant in aqua sports. Be it swimming, diving, water polo, rowing, canoeing or kayaking. The defence units have conquered many shores by their grit and tenacity.
Remember Bajrang Lal Takhar, of the Rajputana Rifles. He won India’s first-ever Asian Games rowing gold in Guangzhou in 2010 bagging the single skulls event. He even claimed the silver in the same event in 2006 in Doha. At the state and national level, Defence personnel have dominated the aquatics and aqua sports for long. But their civilian counterparts are fast catching up. In fact, in swimming, many have done far better too. But when it comes to rowing, canoeing, kayaking or even yachting, Services units have always excelled.
Not just that, they have also established institutions where civilians also can enroll and take part. The Agram Riding School at the A S C Centre is one such example that caters to horse polo enthusiasts.
The Trishna Yacht Club under the care of the Madras Engineer Group and Centre at the Ulsoor lake is another. With the Karnataka Amateur Rowing Association also based there, those interested in rowing, kayaking and canoeing can have a gala time learning the nuances under the watchful eyes of trained personnel. The two have combined to also organise competitions, including the sub junior, junior and senior nationals from time to time to give the disciplines a major boost.
The TYC, situated near the Kempe Gowda Tower on the banks of Ulsoor Lake, boasts of state-of-the-art facilities like a spacious boathouse, jetties, specialised rowing equipment, safety equipment, and a dry dock. The facilities are good enough for professionals too, more so for those aspiring to win medals at major international events.
The country has a lot of potential and more Bajrang Lal Takhars are bound to emerge from its waters, however muddy or weeds-infested. The TYC has surely created a lot of awareness among Bangaloreans. It conducts courses for enthusiasts to get first-hand experience before venturing any further into specialised training. The TYC provides single, double and quad seat sculls for training purposes. It concentrates in areas such as physical fitness, safety, rescue, first aid drills, boats and its maintenance, and techniques. These are essential for rowing. All aspects of safety are given high importance too.