For 11 long years, Ismail Baig has been guiding the destiny of Indian rowing with a rare sense of commitment. And, the London Olympics will be three-in-a-row for the Indian coach.
Still for someone who saw India win more than 100 international medals including one gold, five silver and three bronze in the Asian Games so far, the 46-year-old national coach keeps things pretty simple.
“Honestly, I believe that Olympics will be much easier than a world championship. Yet, my main hopes are in single sculls (Sawarn Singh), if I am permitted to say. But again, he has to really pull off a great show to be in the medal bracket,” said Baig.
“This again depends on how well he adapts to the conditions in London before the Olympics.
“We are taking two boats from here and two will be hired by the company. So equipment should not be an issue,” he said.
“In fact, the conditions in London should be better than here. Since, it will be summer time, I don’t think we should experience any problems,” said the chief coach.
The Bajrang issue
Referring to the Bajrang Lal issue, Baig said that each country can field only one person and the team preferred Sawarn Singh because of the latter’s current form.
“Definitely, the experience of Bajrang will be missed. But again, when we think of even the slightest chance for a medal, we have to choose the best and we chose Sawarn as Bajrang was struggling of late because of a long break (down with typhoid),” he said.
“The focus is on single sculls for us because even if you finish in the top six in the heats, you still have a chance to qualify for the semifinal whereas in double sculls, you have to be in the top three,” said Baig.
“Anyway, you need to come up with an exceptional performance to be in the reckoning in the Olympics. I don’t want to say that we can’t but certainly not keen to hazard a guess on the prospects,” Baig said.