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Kolkata couple from Gariahat to vie in double sculls in French regatta

The two are participants in the 2022 World Rowing Masters Regatta, being held from September 7 to 11

Debraj Mitra | Published 08.09.22, 06:11 AM
Sunayana Shetty and Swapan Purkait during a practice session in Libourne, France

Sunayana Shetty and Swapan Purkait during a practice session in Libourne, France

Telegraph picture

A couple from Gariahat in south Kolkata are in Libourne, a picturesque slice of southwestern France, to participate in a rowing tournament.

Swapan Purkait, 47, and Sunayana Shetty, 38, residents of Hindustan Road, are participants in the 2022 World Rowing Masters Regatta, being held from September 7 to 11.

Purkait and Shetty will compete in the double sculls category, where there are two rowers, each with a pair of oars. Their event is scheduled for September 11.

The website of the World Rowing Federation says: “The World Rowing Masters Regatta is held annually and open to rowers 27 years of age and older. Rowers race in age categories starting at ‘A’ for those with a minimum age of 27. The categories continue through to ‘M’ for crews with an average age of 89 or more.”

The competition is “counting on delegations from more than 50 countries and at least 5,000 athletes, will enhance the reputation of rowing and the city of Libourne,” the website says.

Members of the rowing fraternity in Kolkata said the tournament is meant for amateur rowers who want to stay in touch with the sport. Entries are based on applications from individual rowing clubs. Purkait and Shetty’s application went from Calcutta Rowing Club, where the two have been rowing since 2010.

“I have grown up around the Rabindra Sarobar lake. I always loved rowing but could not indulge in the sport because of studies,” said Purkait, who did his MBA from the Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar, and a PhD in information security from IIT Kharagpur.

Purkait and Shetty together run a consultancy on cyber security. The two started rowing together, in the summer of 2010, at the CRC.

“We were already settled in life and wanted to try the sport. There has been no looking back,” he told this newspaper over the phone.

This is their first international tournament. Just before the pandemic, Shetty won a bronze medal in a tournament organised by the Amateur Rowing Association of the East (ARAE).

“She is a much better rower than me,” Purkait said candidly.

The two reached France last week to get as much practice as they can because they could hardly get any back home.

Rowing has remained suspended in the Sarobar since May 21, when two student rowers drowned in the lake during a Nor’wester.

“For the past five months, we have only trained on ergometers. Being on water is badly missed,” said Purkait.

The couple have been training for a couple of hours in the morning and evening for the past few days.

They have put up at a hotel near Dagueys lake, the venue of the competition. The eight-lane 2,000m racecourse is one of the training courses for the French national rowing team.

Last updated on 08.09.22, 06:11 AM
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