'Hope effort inspires others'

Para-rowers do their bit, anticipate an impact on fellow mates

'Hope effort inspires others'
From L-R: Rajesh Pawar (Army), Narayana Konganpalle (Services), Kuldeep Singh (Haryana)

PUNE: Narayana Konganpalle, better known as K Narayana, became the first para rower to bag a double at a National championship.

Fact is, the ‘golden double’ he claimed in the Para 3 Single Sculls (PR3 M1X) events at the 39th Senior and 23rd Open Sprints National Rowing Championships at ARN, Pune gave him the distinction of ‘most individual medals won by an Indian in international and national competitions.’

Glorification always is a delightful read, but then two bronze medals from the World Cup, Poland and Asian Para-Rowing Championship, South Korea is a testimony of Narayana’s decorated self.

The Pune chapter for the Services rower along with fellow rivals Kuldeep Singh, Rajesh Patil, VajithV, Devidas Patil was no doubt a first at the Nationals, but then this maiden experience at the Nationals were mixed with emotions apart from records or for that matter winning and losing.

For the experienced Hav. Narayana (Engineers) the event itself was a dream. “Long-awaited and moreover we have been so attuned to performing abroad – foreign land, foreign spectators.”

The Andhra Pradesh born added, “I do know that representing India is bigger and that the international stage is where we all aim to compete, but this start was needed.

Sep. Kuldeep Singh of Jat Regiment Centre, who boasts of equal success with Narayana as a pair internationally, was unperturbed by his counterpart finishing strongly for the gold in the 2000m event.

Complimenting Narayana, the 30-year-old Haryanvi said; “The one who was better won. It’s a competition and it does not matter.”

The youngest of the lot Army Sports Control Board’s Sep. Rajesh Pawar, brought in the humour when asked how he felt. “My first medal,” he was quick to say before the rest corrected him to remind him that this was the first competition ever.

Ask what would he take back from this race? And the Maratha Infantry puts practicality in point. “I got to learn a lot from my illustrious fellow mates cum competitors. I realised how much it takes to be a front runner….and that’s my biggest gain.” Sangli-born Rajesh finished second to Narayana in the 2-kilometre run and fourth in the Sprint (500m)  

For Sep. Vajith V (Valsan) it was the end of a long wait. “I was looking forward to the chance where I could compete and then this opportunity came along,” he modestly opined. Selected by ARN, the Madras Regimental Centre rower’s effort of finishing with a silver medal in the Sprint event has yielded success in just around a year of training. “I am looking forward to more competitions and representing India,” he adds.

The lone civilian in the field, Devidas Patil was determination personified despite not managing to win a single medal like his fellow colleagues.   

“Competition was all that mattered to me. It was my first ever since I took up the sport for the first time,” added Devidas who hails from Devloli, in Raigad district of Maharashtra.

From L-R: Vajith V (Kerala), Rajesh Pawar (Army), Narayana Konganpalle (Services), Kuldeep Singh (Haryana) and Devidas Patil (Maharashtra)

But probably the biggest statement of the day came from Kuldeep who spoke with unison for all. “Since all the affiliated units were in attendance and witnessed us, hopefully, ‘our story’ will be taken back and next time more competitors’ line up. We anticipate, our run-in Pune was encouraging enough and maybe some if not many will come forward to take up the sport. It would certainly have an impact.”

Kuldeep’s statement was big. It spoke of the parasegment needing rowers. And given the fact that three of the five who competed are 33 years old, it’s a find that certainly is the need of the hour.

RESULTS (min:secs.secs)

PARA 3 Single Sculls (PR3 M1XF1 – 2000m):

  1. Narayana Konganpalle (Services) 8:45.2
  2. Rajesh Pawar (Army) 8:51.1
  3. Kuldeep Singh (Haryana) 08:55.5

PARA 3 Single Sculls (PR3 M1XF1 – 500m)

  1. Narayana Konganpalle (Services) 1:56.47
  2. Vajith V (Kerala) 1:57.54
  3. Kuldeep Singh (Haryana) 2:03.32.