The beaming faces of the Indian rowing team which won one gold, two silver and two bronze in the recent Asian Championship in China said it all. And Sawarn Singh Virk, who returned to the Hussainsagar lake with gold in the men's single scull, stood tall for obvious reasons.

The 23-year-old, rower, who finished 12th in the London Olympic Games, was obviously pleased with his medal in his second Asian championship, having clinched a silver in the earlier edition.

“The weather was not a problem but we did have some hiccups with the equipment. But still, thanks to the unstinting support of my coach (Dronacharya Ismail Baig), I could finish first,” said Sawarn, struggling to put words together in his moment of joy.

Born to a family of agriculturists in Mansa district of Punjab, Sawarn has never won a National gold.

But ever since he joined the Indian camp in Hyderabad about three years ago, there has been no looking back.

“I never thought someone like me will get so much support. I can tell you no rower has any scope for complaint against the coach who is such a caring person. We owe a lot also to C.P. Singh Deo saab (former president of RFI),” he remarked.

“Once I qualified for the finals, I was confident of winning the gold. Though China did not field its best team, beating the Chinese and Iranians in the final was something that I will cherish for a long time,” said Sawarn, a Havaldar in the Sikh Regiment.

“The experience of competing in the Olympics and two World Championships did come in handy for me to face the challenges. But then, my the next target — an Asian Games gold next year — is not going to be that easy,” said the modest rower.

“I think I will have to work a lot more on the last 500 metres of my races.

“This is the decisive phase of the competition and needs great energy and power. My coach and I are already on the job,” said a smiling Sawarn even as he got ready for a quiet celebration with his teammates in the make-shift shed for the Indian rowers on the banks of the lake.

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