India's rowers starred on the official opening day of the 2023 Asian Games with the contingent winning three medals, including two silvers and a bronze at the Fuyang Water Sports Centre.
Arjun Lal Jat and Arvind Singh kicked things off with a silver in the Lightweight Men's Double Sculls pair event, finishing behind gold medallists China.
Babu Lal Yadav and Lekh Ram then won a bronze in the Men's pair final before the Men's Eight team comprising Jaswinder Singh, Bheem Singh, Punit Kumar, Ashish, Naresh Kalwaniya, Neeraj, Neetish Kumar, Charanjeet Singh and Dhananjay Pande won the silver medal in Men's Coxed Eight to wrap up the day.
The Indian team finished with a timing of 5:43.01, ending behind China at 5:40.17 and ahead of Indonesia who finished third at 5:45.51.
Silver to Start Rowing Medal Haul
Tokyo Olympics veterans Arjun Lal Jat and Arvind Singh finished the Lightweight Men's Double Sculls pair event with a time of 6 minutes 28.18 seconds while China topped the race with 6:23.16. The pair from Uzbekistan won the bronze with a time of 6:33.42.
With Arjun at the bow and Arvind at the stroke, the Indian pair was placed second at the 500m mark, completing it in 1:33.80 and maintaining themselves just 0.70 seconds behind the Chinese pair in the lead. By the 1000m mark, the Chinese pair had extended the lead but the Indians maintained their gap with the Uzbekistan pair. By the 1500 marker, the writing was on the wall as the Chinese continued to extend their lead while the Indians maintained their second position, keeping the Uzbekistan rowers at bay and that is the order in which the rowers were placed on the podium.
Bronze For Babu and Lekh
In the Men's Pair, India's Babu Lal Yadav and Lekh Ram finished third in 6:50.14. Hong Kong China bagged the gold medal in 6:44.20 with Uzbekistan taking silver in 6:48.41. The Indians ran the Uzbekistan pair close but in the end, could not manage to get any closer.
Men's Eight Team End Day With Silver
In the final rowing event of the day, Men's Eight team finished just over two seconds behind China to place second. They finished with a timing of 5:43.01, behind China's 5:40.17 and ahead of Indonesia who finished third at 5:45.51.
The Eights team completed the 500m at 1:24.94, trailing the Chinese by 2.18 seconds. They maintained the gap in the next 500 metres and cut down the gap to 2.20 seconds when they crossed the 1500m mark in 4:16.59. The Chinese team however made a final push to extend the gap to 2.54 seconds at the finish line.
With this medal, India finished the penultimate day in the rowing competition with two silvers and one bronze.
In the men's Double Sculls, India's Satnam Singh and Parminder Singh finished sixth and last in Final A with a timing of 6:40.90. China won the gold in 6:21.54, Uzbekistan took silver in 6:26.64 and Indonesia got bronze in6:27.83. In the Women's Four final, India's Aswathi Babu, Mrunmayee, Priya Devi and Rukmani finished fifth in 7:12.40.
India will figure in four more finals on Monday, 25 September as the rowing competitions will come to an end. The country's main medal hope Balraj Panwar will be taking a shot at a medal in the Men's Single Sculls final.
Rowing made its Asian Games debut in 1982 at New Delhi but the country got its biggest success in 2010 when Bajrang Lal Thakar won the country's first gold medal in the continental extravaganza. Bajrang won the gold medal in the Men's Single Sculls and then the Men's Quadruple Sculls (Sawarn Singh, Dattu Bhoknal, Om Prakash and Sukhmeet Singh added a second gold to the tally in 2018 in Jakarta–Palembang.
Coming into the 2023 Asian Games, India had won 2 gold, 5 silver and 16 bronze medals overall in rowing competitions.
The 2023 Asian Games stretch from 23 September to 8 October and are being hosted by the Chinese city of Hangzhou, after being postponed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. India has sent a 655 member contingent that will compete across 40 disciplines.