Rowers Swarn Singh (single scull), Manjeet Singh and Sandeep Kumar (double sculls) have come a long way. The trio may not hope for a medal but qualifying for the Olympics itself is a matter of pride and competing with rowers from European countries will be first-hand experience for the Indians.
They are ready to perform on the big stage and are confident to hold the nerve and match their skills with the world best rowers. The three are excited about the Olympics. For Swarn and Sandeep, it will be their maiden appearance but for Manjeet it is his second Olympics after taking part in the 2008 Beijing Games.
Swarn clinched the gold in the Asian Championship in South Korea earlier this year to make the cut. “It is a huge feeling to be at the Olympics. As a child I was helping my father (Gurmukh Singh) a farmer, in tilling the land in our village Dalewalle in Punjab. We never knew of water sport. But by chance there was selection in the army and the rest is history,” said Swarn, who adds that Asian Games gold medallist Bajrang Lal Thakar is a role model to all.
“He has been an inspiration to many young rowers because of his exceptional performances.”
Swarn has clocked seven minutes in the two-km course . “Of course it will be different from the waters of Hussainsagar and at London. But by rowing on Hussainsagar helped us practice on hard and rough water. And on the light water at the Olympics could give us a better timing,” said Swarn. Indian rowing coach Ismail Baig said Swarn has made rapid strides in the last few years. “Swarn has the skills and courage to take on the challenge. I feel if he is consistent, he can make it to the quarterfinals,” said Baig.
Manjeet also hails from Punjab. He is from the Ferozepur district. “I was fascinated towards sports from a young age. My father wanted me to do farming. But I was not interested. Luckily, when I got the army offer, I did not hesitate to join. Today, I think I made the right choice,” said Manjeet, who took part in double scull event in 2008 Games.
Sandeep comes from Gudhagorji village, in Jhunojhno district of Rajasthan. “For many in Rajasthan, Bajrang’s feats motivated us to take to sport. There are now more financial incentives. That has made many of them take interest in sports. Ever since I took the water sport through army, my life has changed. Today, I am wearing the Indian colours at the Olympics,” said Sandeep.