AHMEDABAD: Six months ago, both Parminder Singh and Shagandeep Singh were training individually for the men's single sculls event at the Upper Lake in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Given their almost similar body weight and stature, the coaches asked them to pair up for double sculls to check their combination and camaraderie.
As they have been training under the same coach, Inderpal Singh, at SAI Centre in Jagatpur, Odisha, the duo struck a chord immediately giving the coaches a better option in double sculls.
While they were preparing for the 2022 Asian Games in Bhopal, the postponement of the same meant the Gujarat National Games became the first event where the duo competed together for the first time. And given their show in their first competition together, the coaches were not wrong. Parminder and Shagandeep won gold with the timing of 5:56.7 at the Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad. It was also their first National Games medal.
However, what's even more important is the fact that this was the first time Indian Navy rowers competed under the banner of the Services Sports Control Board (SSCB) in any national meet and also bagged a medal.
"We both joined the Indian Navy in March this year. I am a petty officer while Shagan is an SSR," Parminder told this daily. Speaking of their combination he said, "It happened by chance. We have almost similar weight and height so the coaches asked us to try our hands in double sculls. We have the same techniques as well as we train under my dad (Inderpal). These factors must have contributed to our rapid growth as a team. So I can say what started as an experiment turned out to be a blessing in disguise for both of us," added Parminder.
Punjab's Kulwinder Singh and Karamjit Singh (6:02.0) and Jharkhand's Gurpratap Singh and Jaspreet Singh (6:05.4) won the silver and bronze respectively in the event.
While Parminder hails from a family of rowers, Shagan took up the sport after being encouraged by former Asian Games medallist Sawarn Singh. "I hail from his (Sawarn Singh) Dalelwala village of Mansa district in Punjab. He asked me to start rowing given my tall stature. He then recommended my name to Inderpal sir and I shifted to Jagatpur soon after in 2018," Shagandeep said.
The duo's primary goal is to win an Asiad medal, however, their immediate focus is on Asian Championships scheduled in Thailand.
"The Asian Championships is slated from November 30 to December 4 in Thailand. It's good that we got this event. Training and competitions are two different things. We now know what are our strengths and weaknesses. We hope we manage to work on our flaws before the Thailand event and bag a medal there as well. The ultimate goal is Asiad glory and we feel we are improving every day," Parminder signed off.