Windy conditions at the Sea Forest waterway on Wednesday thrashed Indian rowers' hopes of reaching the finals in the men's lightweight double scull. The Indian rowing duo of Arvind Singh and Arjun Lal Jat timed 6:24:41 in the semifinals, finishing 6th in the heats.
However, this has been the best result for the Indian rowers in the history of the Olympics. The Indian rowers will now battle for the 7th-12th position on Thursday.
The weight of the athlete has to be less than 70 kg in the men's lightweight doubles sculls category. The weight of the boat is 27 kg. Starting in lane 6, both Arvind and Arjun had a good start. By the halfway mark (1 km) they were neck-to-neck for the third position.
After the semifinals, both rowers spoke exclusively to Sportskeeda.
"After 1500m there was choppy water due to which there was imbalance in the water in the board. That has affected our performance and unfortunately we couldn't reach the finals," said Arvind Singh after the semifinal.
Arvind added: 'We're here to give our best and we want to finish best among whoever has represented India at the Olympics. Our goal now is to finish in top 10."
Arvind Singh is an Indian Navy officer while Arjun Lal is an Indian army officer. The Indian duo qualified for the Olympics, at the same Sea forest venue on 7th May 2021. They were practicing at the Army center in Pune under strict COVID-19 restrictions.
"Due to Covid-19 restrictions we had to face several problems. We were staying at one place, we couldn't go out of our training venue. The mask would come out of our face only when we would eat or where alone in our room. We couldn't meet anyone, we couldn't go home even if we had some work. ", said Arjun Lal.
Arjun Lal added, "After the qualification we took a one day gap and then again we had to do quarantine. Our training was also missed due to quarantine. "
Indian rowers have never reached the top 12 in the history of the Olympics. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Indian rowers finished in the 18th position and 19th in London 2012. At the 2016 Dattu Bhokanal finished 13th in single sculls, which was the best result so far.
"We were doing as per the instructions provided by coach Ismail Baig. How to perform the first 500 meters and the next 500 meters. He is one of the reasons why we reached here."
Arvind and Arjun spoke about the future of Indian rowing
Upon being asked how you see the future of Indian Rowing, Arjun Lal said.
"Our aim was to reach the finals which would have helped the Indian rowing to grow in the country. He had full support from the Indian government, Indian army, rowing federation and the coaches and that's why we have reached here so far. But reaching the finals would have gotten more attention from the Indian Government to improve the future of Indian rowing."
"Our coach Ismail Baig has guided us very well and it is one of the reasons why we are here. Our goal now is to finish in top 10 which will be the best result ever in the history of Indian rowing at the Olympics.", said Arvind singh.
"The experience in Tokyo will be useful for qualification of Paris 2024 and we will again give our best. Whoever qualifies for the 2024 Paris Olympics from India, we hope they will break our record. And maybe in 2028 we will win a medal in rowing," said Arjun Lal