Indian rower Balraj Panwar to leave for Paris 20 days in advance to ‘acclimatise well’

India's rowers paddle back to the start line as they compete in the men's lightweight four rowing competition at the 2018 Asian Games in Palembang on August 21, 2018. (Photo by ADEK BERRY / AFP)

Kolkata, Jun 20 (PTI) Competing in the high-endurance men’s singles sculls rowing event at the Olympics can be tough, but Balraj Panwar, India’s only qualifier for the Paris Games, hopes to make it count by training there for 20 days.

Panwar will be among the first batch of athletes to reach Paris to acclimatise themselves to the conditions.

“We are going there 20 days in advance and I’m sure it won’t feel ‘strange’. It will help us acclimatise to the weather and be ready,” Panwar said in a virtual media interaction organised jointly by SAI, IOA and the Rowing Federation of India.

Indian doubles sculls rower Salman Khan will be his training partner and will set the pace for him during training at a club in France before the actual competition.

“You are alone in the waters in men’s singles sculls and there is a lot of mental as well as physical training needed. With Salman in training, I hope to get myself ready fully before the big event.” Panwar, who hails from Haryana, bagged the Olympic quota after winning a bronze medal in the men’s single sculls (M1x) event at the Asian and Oceanian Rowing Olympic Qualification Regatta, in Chungju, South Korea last month.

Having started rowing only three years back, Panwar has shown tremendous improvement and narrowly missed out on a bronze medal at the Hangzhou Asian Games last year.

“With each tournament, our experience increases. The Asian Games was an important stepping stone in my journey and I will be going to Paris with full preparation.” In men’s singles sculls, no Indian rower has reached the semifinals and Panwar is chasing the dream of achieving the best-ever finish for the country at Paris.

“No Indian has made it to the semifinal in rowing. I hope to make it to the semi-finals and achieve the best-ever feat for the country,” he said.

He is being coached by veteran rower Bajrang Lal Thakkar, who represented India in the same event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“Besides the training part, the race involves a lot of small nuances and Thakkar sir is helping me by telling me about how to start, pace the race and finish well.” As for the mental preparation, Panwar is attending a weekly class by a sports psychologist.

“Mental health is crucial because in single sculls we are alone and need to motivate ourselves,” he added.

Source: PTI News


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