The Indian men’s four team did remarkably well to stage a comeback and claim bronze at the Asian Games in Hangzhou on Monday, but with a bit of luck and discretion, it could have ended with a silver by pipping heavyweights China. It was so near and yet so far for the Indian rowers who nearly ended the Chinese dominance on the Beizhi river but luck was not on their side in the last 20 metres, missing out on silver by milliseconds. (Asian Games Medals Tally | Full Schedule – Sep 25)
The Indian quartet of Jaswinder Singh, Bheem Singh, Punit Kumar and Ashish Goliyan were neck-and-neck with their Chinese counterparts in the last 500-metre of the race.
But one of their oars got stuck in the buoy as the Chinese pipped them at the post.
“It was a close race. We had tried to beat the Chinese from the start and it was all going according to plan, but a mistake in the last 20 metres of the race really cost us a silver medal by a fraction of a second,” Punit said at the Fuyang Water Sports Centre.
“There was a crosswind today, which led us to go off course and one of our oars got stuck in the buoy, and that resulted in our silver medal turning to bronze.” At the same venue on Sunday, the 29-year-old seasoned oarsman was a member of the silver-winning coxed eight team, which, again, was pipped by China.
“This will probably hurt me for a long time. But I have learned a big lesson from this,” Punit said.
The Army man, who has won silver and bronze medals in the previous two editions of the Asian Championships, felt this would inspire the next generation.
“Hopefully the generations after us will realise that we have the potential to defeat China in future competitions,” he said.
Home advantage is a factor but Punit’s teammate Ashish Goliyan feels a good preparation is what it takes to beat the Chinese.
“It depends on practice. If you have trained well and prepared for the conditions, you can do well anywhere and win medals.
“Home advantage definitely has a role to play, but if you train well, you will get the results you are out to get,” he said.
“There’s not a lot of outside noise in the water. We are giving instructions to each other and motivating each other, so we can’t really hear what’s happening outside.
“It was not our day and we made a mistake which cost us a silver medal,” he added.
India ended their campaign in rowing with five medals — two silver and three bronze.
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