Scullers debut on surer waters

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  • Published 16.07.10

Ranchi, July 15: Jharkhand Rowing Association (JRA) is gearing up to paddle ashore the forthcoming 34th National Games with dignity, and if possible, a medal.

Jharkhand is actually trying to obliterate past ignominies in rowing.

Seven years ago, at the 32nd National Games at Hyderabad in 2003, the lone sculler from Jharkhand slipped into the water while stepping into his canoe, capsizing it in the individual rowing event. The state, of course, won only derision, no medal.

At the 33rd National Games in Guwahati, although the scullers did not commit any faux pas, they did not bag any medals either.

Despite their dismal record, the scullers will get a chance to participate in the event only because of an amendment in the rules of the Indian Olympic Association, just before the 32nd National Games, which gives the host state for National Games the chance to participate in all team events irrespective of its rankings.

So, host Jharkhand gets to participate in all 34 team events in the 34th National Games.

Jharkhand Rowing Association (JRA) members are hoping that the state will come up with a creditable performance. JRA office bearers have short-listed as many as 32 state-level scullers for training.

JRA president S.M. Hashmi told The Telegraph from Giridih: “We shortlisted 32 scullers yesterday, who will now undergo an intensive month-long training at Khandoli dam, five km from Giridh, from August 17. Subsequently, they will move to Maithon dam, the official venue for water sports. Our plan is to give our boys almost round-the-clock practice right up to December 5. The National Games are scheduled to start on December 9.”

Hashmi added: “We have had two coaching camps for kayaking and canoeing. For rowing this will be the first camp. The second and third phases of coaching would follow quickly, without allowing for gaps.”

Significantly, the state rowing association is bullish about providing the best possible equipment to the rowers.

They have invested in six each single and double-scull boats, platforms for the rowers to step on to reach the boats as well as other equipment. Each boat costs around Rs 4 lakh, said an official.

Although rains this year played spoilsport, the water level this season has increased at both Khandoli and Maithon dams, giving rowers comfortable leeway to practice.

The postponement of the National Games to December will also help the rowers. “If the games had been held in June, we would not have been able to give our rowers enough time for practice,” Hashmi said.

State sports authorities are hoping that better training and equipment as well as more time to practice augur well for the home team. “We hope the JRA training strategy succeeds and the state rowing team salvages some pride at home during the 34th National Games,” said a senior sports administrator.

In the last two National Games, the state’s rowers had participated in individual rowing — and not team events — as the state was not among the top eight rowing teams of the country. But state officials said back then rowing was an unknown sport, promising a different story this time.