Rower dedicates Asiad bronze medal to late colleague, Dharmesh Sangwan, who died in Sudan last year
A bronze medal may not be something to go to the rooftop and shout about, but this medal has a lot of significance for many of the members on the Indian rowing team here at the Incheon Asian Games.
India's Dushyant Chauhan competes in the men's lightweight single sculls rowing event in Incheon yesterday. Pics/AFP
Braving cold weather and hampered by a strong wind that seemed to affect him more than others, Dushyant Chauhan, hung in for a bronze medal that looked like being a gold till 200m from the finish in the 2000 metres men's lightweight single sculls event.
The medal, as also any more that may come India's way will be the team's tribute to Dharmesh Sangwan, a silver medallist from the 2006 Asian Games in Doha. Sangwan lost his life while serving in the UN Peacekeeping Forces last year. He had turned a coach in 2009.
Sangwan and his then teammate Satish Joshi had won a gold in the 2007 Asian Rowing Championships at the same lake in Incheon and that win instilled a belief in Indian rowers that they could do well at the Asian level because it was India's first major gold at the Asian level.
Coach Ismail Baig had said before the Games that his team would try and better their performance of five medals from last time at the very place where Sangwan had brought glory for India at the 2007 Asian meet.
India's Dushyant Chauhan at the presentation ceremony after winning the bronze in the lightweight men's single sculls rowing event at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon yesterday
He said the Indian performance and medals will be a tribute to Sangwan. "The competition is taking place at the same Lake where Sangwan won. His death was a shock for the rowing community," said Baig.
India's Swaran Singh Virk has reached the finals of Men's Open singles sculls and is a big favourite for the gold. He won the gold at 2013 Asian Rowing in China.
Dushyant seemed destined for a gold as he raced past early leader Lok Kwan Hoi of Hong Kong after the first 500m. He kept the lead past halfway mark at 1000m and stayed there till just past the 1750 mark. Then he seemed to be hit by the winds and had trouble pushing ahead.
Lok and then South Korea's Lee Hak-Beom overtook the Indian, who was left clutching a bronze. In the closing metres, it seemed Lee of Korea might even overtake Lok, but the latter hung in for the gold.
Lok won in 7:25.04s with Lee finishing in 7:25.95 and Dushyant crossed the finish in 7:26.57s giving India its only medal for the day.
Proud of medal
"I am feeling very good because it is my first Asian Games medal, but I felt it could have been gold, but for the weather," said Dushyant. "I will try to do better next time. I want the gold. The weather was very cold and windy."
Memories: Dharmesh Sangwan (extreme left), Jenil Krishnan, Sukhjeet Singh and Satish Joshi (extreme right) on the podium after winning silver in the men's Rowing Four event at the Doha Asian Games in 2006. Pic/AFP
The Army rower, making his Asian Games debut, added, "I was confident of the gold but my lane was the most affected by the strong wind. However I am happy to win the bronze medal," said the 21-year-old who hails from Haryana and is stationed in Roorkee with Bengal Engineering Group.
The secretary of the Rowing Federation of India Secretary General MV Sriram, said, "He led for most of the race and should have won the gold."
Four years ago in Guangzhou single sculler Bajrang Lal Takhar made history by winning the first rowing gold in singles sculls and in 2006 Doha he won silver.