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Through to quarters, Swarn eyes history

Indian rower Sawarn Singh Virk held off a late challenge from his South Korean rival to win the single sculls repechage round and book a berth in the quarterfinals in the London Olympics in London today.

india Updated: Jul 30, 2012 01:32 IST
Saurabh Duggal
Saurabh Duggal
Hindustan Times
swarn singh,news,hindustan times

On Saturday, he missed the mark by a whisker, but on Sunday, he made up for the loss to enter the quarterfinals of the single scull event.

Now, Swarn Singh (22) has set his sights on becoming the first Indian rower to enter the semifinals of the Olympic Games.

"Yesterday, I created a national record (6.54s), but the effort was not good enough to get me entry into the quarters. Today, I was a bit slow (7.00s) but achieved the mark. It's all part of the game and now I want to be at my best on Tuesday to make the semis cut," said Swarn.

Till September 2009, Swarn had no idea what rowing sport was all about. "When I heard the word for the first time, my reaction was, 'what is rowing'."

Today, he is competing in the sport at the world biggest arena.

"I was at the Sikh Regimental Centre in Ranchi preparing for the Republic Day parade, when a senior asked me if I would be interested in rowing. That time, I had no idea about the sport, but I said yes," recalled the Services rower.

"I was picked up for the sport only because of my height. The Army team was looking for boys above 185cm in height. I was tall as well as fit, so my seniors recommended my name. Later, I was sent to Pune to join the Army rowing camp."

At that time, Swarn's aim was to get a promotion. And, it was only after he joined the India camp that his perspective changed.

"I am from a humble background and I joined the Army only for money. When I was picked for rowing, I came to know that if I won a medal at the nationals, I would get a promotion. So, initially, it was just the promotion, which was my driving force. But, after winning gold at the 2011 Ranchi National Games, I was selected for the India camp and subsequently my perspective changed.

"I came across Asian Games gold-medallist, Bajrang Lal Takhar, and came to know what Olympics is all about," said the rower.

Swarn still remembers the days when he used to run alongside a horse to improve his endurance, which would help him clear the Army's physical test.

"At that time, I was running to get a job, but the endurance I developed then is helping me now. That's why I've been able to reach this level in such a short span of time," said Swarn.

First Published: Jul 29, 2012 15:48 IST