n a rollicking start, Indian athletes won a total of five medals, three silver and two bronze on the opening day of the Hangzhou Asian Games on Sunday. Rowers powered their way to two silver and a bronze medal.
On a pleasant morning with the conditions just perfect for rowing at the Fuyang Water Sports Centre, Arjun Lal Jat and Arvind Singh opened the country’s account with a silver medal in the men’s lightweight doubles sculls event.
The Indian duo clocked 6:28.18s to finish behind China’s Junjie Fan and Man Sun, who won gold with 6:23.16s.
Indian shooters also made an impressive start to their Asian Games campaign with the experienced trio of Mehuli Ghosh, Ramita Jindal and Ashi Chouksey’s bagged the women’s team silver while Ramita also clinched an individual bronze in the 10m air rifle event.
The Indian men’s coxed-eight team comprised Neeraj, Nareskh Kalwaniya, Neetish Kumar, Charanjeet Singh, Jaswinder Singh, Bheem Singh, Puneet Kumar and Ashish.
Indonesia, who clocked a time of 5:45.51s were third.
The achievement is all the more creditable given that rowers from powerhouse Uzbekistan and Japan finished fourth and fifth respectively.
In the coxless pair event, India Babulal Yadav and Lekh Ram had to settle for a bronze with a time of 6:50.41 sec, behind gold medallists Hong Kong, China (6:44.20 sec) and Uzbekistan 6:48.11.
Arvind said they were aiming for gold but an injury setback two months back had hampered his training.
“We missed training for 20 to 25 days as I was having lower-back pain two months back. Our aim was to win gold but because of my injury, I wasn’t able to push myself as much. Even during the trials, I was battling this injury,” said Arvind. “I went to Hyderabad to get treatment and the physio there really worked on getting me back in good shape. I resumed practice and only because of that have I been able to win this silver medal,” he added. “We will now work for the Paris Olympics and then try to win gold at the 2026 Asian Games.”
His team-mate Arjun said they had gold medal on their mind. “Gold was the target but we did our best. Our coach told us to just do our best. We could not do our (personal) best of 6:19, which we did at our Army nodal centre in Pune,” said Arjun.
On the reason they fell back after taking a sizeable lead around the 500m mark, Arjun said, “We pushed hard and did our best today.” Arjun and Arvind have been training together for the last four years and it sowed in the fine coordination the pair forged on Sunday.
“We had been training for this (event) continuously for the past four years. We had made it to the semifinals of the Tokyo Olympics in 2021,” said Arjun, crediting the triumph to Rowing Federation of India and the Sports Authority of India, who have provided them with regular training camps and international exposure.