New Delhi: Unheralded Indian rower Swarn Singh ended his London Olympics campaign on a positive note, finishing 16th in the men's single sculls event. With an impressive show, Swarn, who was performing in his maiden Olympics, won the single sculls repechage round after finishing fourth in the heats and booked his berth in the last eight. He clocked 6:54.04 to complete the 2km distance. After a superb show at the Eton Dorney Rowing Centre in London, Swarn has hit sights set on at least a semi-final or final berth at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Speaking to IBN Sports upon his return to India, the 22-year-old, from Mansa village in Punjab, opened up on his Olympic experience.
Did you expect this kind of performance in the London Olympics? Honestly speaking, no. Though it was my Olympic debut, I waned to end it in a satisfactory note. I targeted to finish at least to the quarters and I did that. We were really working hard for the last two years with the Olympics in our minds. We performed well in the World Championships and learnt a lot. We worked on our timings.
Swarn Singh ended his London Olympics campaign on a positive note, finishing 16th in the men\'s single sculls event.
At the age of 22, you were the lone Indian rower at the Olympics along with several world-wide stalwarts. How did you feel? When my London berth was booked, I was happy but nervous as well. Although it was a dream come true for me, I had to perform on such a big platform. Initially I was very nervous but later due to the support from my family and coaches, everything went fine. I took help from other participants as well. Their guidelines and tips helped me.
What are your plans for the 2016 Rio Olympics? I am really satisfied with my performance in London. I hope I will do well in the next Olympics. I reached the quarters in London but will try my best to reach at least the semi-finals or finals in the 2016 Olympics. I have four years in hand and will sweat it out for a good show next time.
You finished in 16th position. Were you satisfied? Every Olympian has one dream, and that is winning a medal for his country. I was on my debut and didn’t expect that I would reach the quarters. But by god’s grace, I did it. I got many wishes after clearing the repechage round. I am really satisfied and very happy with my performance. I didn’t expect this kind of show at the Olympics. The moment I left London for home, my mind started planning for Rio de Janeiro. I have gained a lot in London and it will definitely help me in 2016. Rio is my next target. I have four years in hand and will try to learn as much as possible in this period.
What did you learn from your London experience? London was a great experience for me. I tried to talk with the players and seniors as well. They gave guidelines and tips which I’ll be applying in my practice sessions. I have to work on my timings.
Did you face any problems in London? Weather was the main issue. It took three-four days for me to acclimatize as per the conditions. Rowing becomes too difficult in cold conditions. Initially, it troubled me but afterwards I adapted as per the conditions.
Did you get proper facilities from the Indian government? Every game needs a path breaker so that the young talent can idolize him. Rowing is not a renowned game in India. People do not give attention to it. I want the government to also focus on small games. Due to the negligence from the government, small sports like rowing lose their identity. We want the government’s proper attention on rowing. If we talk about boxing, only after Vijender Singh’s bronze medal at Beijing did boxing get its popularity in India. Now the young boxers have started idiolising the Bhiwani boy. Mary Kom has also set a benchmark. We will see more Indian eves donning boxing gloves soon. Abhinav Bindra’s gold medal has also popularized shooting in India. Now, Vijay [Kumar] and Gagan [Narang] have joined the party.
You performed well in the repechage and outplayed South Korea’s Kim Dongyong. What was going on in your mind after that performance? Defeating an experienced player is not an easy task for anyone. I didn’t think of it. I had to play my own game. I had my quarter-final berth in my mind. After I was defeated in the heats, I prepared myself for the repechage. I didn’t think whether I would be clearing the repechage or not. I had to put my best in that round. I was extremely happy after paving my way to the quarters.