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Rowers shaken but not stirred
- Day after accident, services team back at deepor beel

Guwahati, Feb. 12: If sport is all about fighting spirit, the 33rd National Games got its defining moment today.

The Services rowing team that was involved in a near-fatal bus mishap near the Games Village yesterday was back in business barely 12 hours after the incident. “Shaken, but not stirred,” coach Jagbir Singh said of the three rowers who took up the oars again despite their injuries.

Jagbir, who was among the 16 members of the Services team to have been injured in the accident, said the practice session at Deepor Beel went off well. “Three of our rowers — Prashant Mishra, Sachin Chauhan and Baldev Singh — went for practice today and we are sure of a good show.”

The Services Sports Control Board (SSCB) rowing team is acknowledged to be the best in the country, studded as it is with medallists in the Asian Games, SAF Games and other international events.

“We were expecting eight gold medals but our performance is likely to be affected by the absence of those rowers who cannot participate. But the greatest consolation for us is that all of our players are now out of danger,” Jagbir said.

Public relations officer of GNRC Hospital, Monoj Deka, said Gurshir Singh of the SSCB team suffered a “crush injury” on his right arm and had to undergo surgery.

“The five-hour operation conducted by a team of doctors last night was successful and his condition is now stable. However, he is still in ICU under observation,” he said.

Competition director (rowing) Subrato Dutta said the SSCB team had opted out of only one event. “They asked for permission to make some changes in team composition and, considering the special circumstances, the competition jury has allowed it.”

The bus carrying the rowers had swerved at high speed following steering failure, hit a road divider and turned on its side. Chief minister Tarun Gogoi was among the first to visit GNRC Hospital and Down Town Hospital, where the injured rowers were admitted.

The Kamrup (metro) deputy commissioner has since ordered an inquiry into the accident.

Apart from the display of fighting spirit by the SSCB rowers, the fourth day of the Games will be remembered for records sinking in the aquatics complex.

As many as five records fell today with Richa Mishra of New Delhi featuring in two of them. Fariha Zaman of Assam, too, broke the previous national record in the 200 metres backstroke but had to be content with the silver.

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