Rowers anxious wait ends

Finally after 2 years the Senior National Rowing Championship ready to get off the blocks  

Rowers anxious wait ends
Rowers anxious wait ends
Rowers anxious wait ends

PUNE: Finally, it’s all systems go for the 39th Senior and 23rd Open Sprints National Rowing Championships which sets off at the picturesque Army Rowing Node (ARN), CME, Pune.

Come Monday, 3rd January and the crème de la crème rowers of India, which include Olympians, Asian and National champions, face off in a Championship they all so eagerly waited to happen.

Starved of competition owing to the pandemic since 2019, which seemingly continues to haunt this time around via the Omicron variant, the championship expects competition from 25 affiliate units which roughly will have a congregation of over 450 oarsmen.

Colonel Sandeep Chahal, Commanding Officer ARN and Organising Secretary aptly sums up the mood explaining, “for any athlete it’s frustrating to practice on a minimum, which was the case during the Covid outbreak. Add no competition and one can realise how when the opportunity knocked the participants and units responded in total.”

The last time that the Rowing Federation of India (RFI) annual showcase event was held was at Hyderabad in 2019. Since then, competition was just the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (held in 2021) and the recent Asian Rowing Championship in Thailand.

In both competitions, India took big steps to make the sports’ presence felt among the headlines. At Tokyo, India logged their best-ever performance at the Summer Games when Arjun Lal Jat and Arvind Singh (Men's Lightweight Double Sculls) finished 11th. Likewise, at Thailand, India reaped in two gold and four silver medals on the continental stage.

At Pune all medalists will renew their national rivalry with a clutch of emerging stars. Col. Chahal, explains, “after all making a mark in the Nationals will only mean to move a step closer to don the National colors at the Asian level (Asian Games) as the next tier, with of course the ultimate being the Olympic Games.”

The Championship will be held over 2000 meters and 500 meters for both men and women respectively.

For the men, the events are single sculls, double sculls, coxless pairs, coxless fours (all in 2000m and 500m). Open double sculls, coxless fours and coxed eights will be held in only 2000m for the men rowers. The first two events will be for civilians only.

Similarly, for women, single sculls, double sculls, coxless pairs, and coxless fours will be held in 2000m and 500m. Double sculls mixed event (500m) and para-men single sculls (200m and 500m) will also be organised.

Meanwhile, two teams are being fielded by the Armed Forces - the Services team (SSCB) and the Army team (ASCB). Col. Chahal adds, “as the Army is a main contributor of the rowers the federation has included the Army team to have better competition and identify a larger pool of talent.”

The ARN, which became operational in 2009, will be hosting the Senior Nationals for the third time. Back in 2014, ARN hosted the inaugural Championship and then the 37th edition in 2018.

Having come forward in hosting the event, the Championship received a boost in the arm in the form of the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) stepping in to co-host the event. “I must thank the PCMC Municipal Commissioner Rajesh Patil for immediately agreeing when we reached out,” Col. Chahal added.

The teams are expected to arrive on Sunday and Monday.