Asian Games 2018: Pune-trained rowers battle cough, cold and fever to bag 1 gold, 2 bronze
Of the 34 Indian men’s rowers, 33 are from Army and trained in Pune. They are backpune Updated: Aug 29, 2018 16:43 IST
One gold and two bronze medals might normally seem like a decent haul from an Asian Games, but given India’s current overall sporting proficiency on display at Jakarta, Indonesia, the Indian rowing team is not happy.
Out of the 34 rowers at the Asian Games, 33 are from the Indian Army and several returned to their training centre at the College of Engineering Pune (COEP) on Monday.
“Health issues affected us. Eight rowers had a fever, cold and sore throats. They were struggling to get used to with the hot and humid weather, the food and also the tournament pressure. This cumulatively affected their performance,” said Dr Mahesh Shete, who accompanied the Indian rowing team as a medical support.
“We had requested the team be sent at least a week before the tournament, but unfortunately, the Games Village did not open till then and the rowers directly flew to the venue, just ahead of the tournament. That also affected their performance,” Dr Shete added.
The Indian men’s team comprising Sawarn Singh, Dattu Bhokanal, Om Prakash and Sukhmeet Singh won the gold medal in the men’s quadruple sculls event. The rowers clocked 6:17:13 to win the medal. Indonesia and Thailand settled for silver and bronze medals, respectively.
Dattu Bhoknal, an Army rower who was part of the team, said, “Before the Rio Olympics in 2016, I had the opportunity to train in the USA. I never had any health issue there. Here I was not fit even before the tournament. Since August 19, I had fever, but still managed to train. Unfortunately, on race day (August 23), my boat (single sculls) toppled and I fell in the water. The cold water intensified my health issue.”
“We weren’t allowed to take injections and the medicines that were approved by the medical team didn’t prove effective. So even on the next day, I was feeling weak and dejected. Somehow, I motivated myself and grabbed the medal opportunity,” he said.
Media reports quoted India’s Romanian coach Nicolae Gioga, who had won five gold medals with the Romanian national team at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics, as being displeased with the performance of Indian rowers at the Asiad.
“Of course, he will be displeased, as results were not coming,” said Dattu.
In the lightweight single scull, Dushyant Chauhan won the bronze medal.
First Published: Aug 29, 2018 16:17 IST