Dattu Bhokanal: 10 things to know about India's sole rowing prospect at Rio Olympics 2016
Dattu Bhokanal is going to represent India in rowing at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The 25-year-old is the sole competitor from India in rowing and will be taking part in single sculls after switching from double sculls, due to an injury to his partner Om Prakash. Let us now take a look at 10 facts about the talented rower-
#1 Dattu Bhokanal was born on 5 April 1991 to a stone crushing labourer family in a tiny village called Talegaon near Nashik in Maharashtra. The village is known to face acute water scarcity, and over 800 families who reside in the village have to face many problems due to the water issue.
#2 He decided to join the Indian army in 2011 to solve his family’s financial problems after his father passed away due to knee cancer. He got selected in the Indian army through an open selection, and moved to Pune soon afterwards.
#3 Dattu was introduced to rowing during his training period at the Bombay Engineer Group and Centre in Khadki in 2012. The 6’4” rower now trains in Pune, at the Army Rowing Node where he shifted in 2013. Kusrat Ali was his first coach, who taught him to basics and fundamentals of rowing.
#4 Ironically, Bhokalnal was afraid of water once upon a time. He was only able to overcome his fear of water after he started training for rowing. In an interview to Indian Express, the 25-year-old had told that it took three topples off his boat to help him face his phobia.
#5 A tragic back injury to Swarn Singh gave an opportunity to Bhokanal to take part in the FISA Asian and Oceania Olympic Qualification Regatta at Chung-Ju in South Korea. Just before the event, his mother met with an accident which resulted in a brain injury. That did not deter him, and he had a pretty good show for his country in the event.
“Yes, it is a huge thing for me, or for that matter anyone, to see the mother in such state. But, in my heart of hearts, I thought qualification for Rio is the best gift I could have given her and that spurred me to achieve the objective.”
#6 He became only the ninth Indian to represent the country at the Olympics in rowing, after he clocked 7 minutes and 7.63 seconds which helped him win a silver medal in the men’s single sculls event and qualify for the Olympics at the FISA Asian Ocean Olympic Qualification in South Korea.
#7 Target Olympic Podium is supporting Dattu in his quest for Olympic glory and is helping in his training and preparation for the Games where he hopes to make the country proud by winning a medal.
#8 Bhokanal was sent to the national camp in 2014, where he was coached by Ismail Baig. He improved a lot as a rower under him, and his rapid strides in the sport helped him to qualify for the 2014 Asian Games.
“I owe a lot to my coach Ismail sir (Dronacharya and chief national rowing coach Ismail Baig). The best part of his job is he takes care of the nitty-gritty of each rower in the national camp including diet, recovery phase and quite naturally improvement of skills. He makes all the rowers very comfortable during training.”
#9 He finished 5th in the 2014 Asian Games, and had a better show a year later in the Asian Championships where he stood second to win the silver medal. His show at the Asian Championships gave him the necessary confidence boost which made him believe he could qualify for the Olympics, which he did. “That was the time when I set my eyes on Rio Olympics.”
#10 He represented Services at the National Rowing Championships in 2014, where he won two gold medals after a phenomenal show in the event.