It is a success story defying all odds. Braving the polluted waters of Hussain Sagar Lake day in and day out, staying in the make-shift shed which doubles up as a hostel close to the Lake in Hyderabad and overcoming adversity on many other fronts has only made these rowers more tougher — mentally and physically too.
Three rowers — Sawarn Singh (single scull) and Manjit Singh and Sandeep Kumar (light weight double scull) — who made it to the 2012 London Olympics by virtue of their performances in the qualifiers in China last month, are keen to put behind all the other factors and focus on the big task ahead.
“It is a dream to represent your country in any discipline. We feel great having made it to the London Games and only we know what amount of hard work we put in to achieve this objective,” said 21-year-old Sawarn Singh, who incidentally has been at the Lake only for the last two years unlike two of his other teammates who have been here for more than five years.
“That it will be my maiden Olympics is all the more satisfying. No doubt, it also means greater responsibility,” said the Jharkhand National Games gold medallist.
For Manjit Singh, it will be his second Olympics. “We are aware that Olympics is a totally different proposition. We are not dispirited and are making serious efforts to keep improving,” he said.
Chief national coach and Dronacharya Ismail Baig, who goes into the waters every day along with the rowers trying to correct any flaws, said that the first objective was to improve their timings. “We are really working hard to achieve this,” he said.
Former Asian Games gold medallist Bajrang Lal too joins them in the preparations giving invaluable tips to the younger rowers. “Personally, I am disappointed at missing the Olympics. But I am really happy to be involved in this training programme,” he said.
The trio is also aware of the fact that the waters in London will not be the same as in the Hussain Sagar Lake. “They have never been there but I am aware of what to expect in London,” the chief coach said after another two-hour regimen on Tuesday morning.
Significantly, before the Olympics, this trio will compete in the World Cup in Germany which should give it a feel of the truly world-class competition that is expected in London Olympics.
“The week-end simulated races in the international standard course in the Lake here do give us a clear perspective of where exactly we stand and what are the grey areas of concern where we have to really improve,” said Manjit and Sandeep.
“Definitely, it is a tribute to their efficacy, redoubtable spirit and most importantly the passion which has driven these rowers to reaching Olympic standard,” said Ismail Baig who has been training many rowers for a decade now.
“Honestly, we cannot talk of winning medals at this stage. But, with a little bit of luck, there can be a scope of a big surprise. Yes, to grab even a thin chance, we have to train as hard as possible. That is what exactly we are here for, ” said Ismail.