No ice cream for India's Tokyo Olympics rowing team as coach Ismail Baig intensifies preparation

India's rowing team
India's rowing team

Weight control is the trickiest part of training for any rowing team. That’s why the Indian men’s lightweight double scull team of Arvind Singh and Arjun Lal Jat, competing at the Tokyo Olympic Games, have avoided desserts since April, said Ismail Baig, India’s national rowing coach.

Baig said:

“Weight control has been on our agenda since April. That’s why sweet dishes including ice cream have not been on our menu. But I’ve promised my team that if they do well in Japan, we will treat them with ice cream.”

The national rowing team training in Pune will leave for the Tokyo Olympic Games on July 16 from Delhi.

In May, Arvind Singh, 24, and Arjun Lal Jat, 25, qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games in the men’s lightweight double scull 2000 meters event at the Asian Oceania Olympic qualifying event held in Tokyo.

According to the national rowing coach, as per rules of the competition the combined average weight of the team should be 140 kg.

“It means the average weight of each rower should not exceed 70kg. The upper weight limit for an individual is 72.5kg. If one athlete is in the upper weight limit group, the other athlete should weigh 67.5 kg to have a combined weight of 140kg. If the combined weight is more than 140 kg, the team will be disqualified,” said the coach explaining the weight issue in rowing.

Also Read: Yogeshwar Dutt feels Bajrang Punia can win Tokyo Olympics medal, says “there is no one at his level”

Being from rural areas of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, Arvind Singh and Arjun Lal Jat, both have an affinity for sweet tooth. It was a tough job for the coaching team to keep strict control of meals during the national camps in Pune.

“Since rowing is a strenuous exercise, the athletes were given a healthy diet to ensure enough calories intake,” added the coach.

Last month, the rowing team canceled a five-week international exposure tour starting June 1 in Portugal’s Pocinho High Performance Center due to strict fortnight-long quarantine rules for Indian visitors.

“Since there was a 14 day quarantine rule for the Indian squad in Portugal, we had to cancel the exposure tour. With the Olympics around the corner, it wasn’t good to lose practice,” pointed out the coach.

Focus on tactical training in rowing: Ismail Baig

The focus during the final preparatory camp, said the coach, has been on the tactical aspect of rowing.

“The rowers had reached 98 percent of their optimum level in April to compete in the Olympic qualification event in May. Hence, the training in the final preparatory camp from June onwards was to get accustomed to tactical aspects of training, including local weather conditions in Tokyo,” said Ismail Baig.

The rowing competition will take place at the Olympic regatta course in Tokyo’s Sea Forest Waterway.

“The course is windy and if the rowers aren’t able to adjust to the local weather conditions, it will be tough to perform,” added the coach.

Due to strict COVID-19 protocols, the Indian rowing team can’t carry their own equipment to Japan.

“We will hire and compete as we did during the Olympic qualification event in May,” said the coach.

Also Read: India at Olympics - Full list of men athletes who have qualified

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Edited by Diptanil