Poor-quality boats, mud in the course leave Chandigarh rowers unhappy

Governance Sports

Length reduced by 600m; admin accused of apathy

Chandigarh: Poor quality of boats and reduction in the length of the course is affecting the training of rowers at the Lake Sports Complex here.

“There is a cluster of mud that has come up in the middle of the course. This has reduced its length by close to 500 metres,” said Rajat Rajput, a rower at the complex.

Another rower, Sukhdeep Singh, informed The Observer: “Previously, one of our courses was given to the forest department to create a shed for migratory birds. The alternative course which has been given to us has a piece of land blocking it. Also, the water in the course is dirty.”

Chandigarh, Bhopal and Pune are the only three cities in India having international-standards rowing courses, of 2,200 metres length. However, the course in Chandigarh is now approximately 1,600 metres long.

Another problem faced by rowers at the Lake Sports Complex is the lack of good boats.

“We have low-grade boats which are manufactured in India. All competitions across the globe use faster, lighter boats. This impacts our performance in competitions, and affects our chances to win,” said Singh.

Rajput, who has trained at Pune’s rowing facility, claimed that better boats are used there.

“I trained in Pune for a couple of months in 2018. They have better-quality boats available with them. This gives their rowers an advantage over us,” he added. 

The coach at the Lake Sports Complex, Deepak Singh, explained how the training of rowers is affected at a shorter course, using boats of a lower quality.

“The boats we use, and the standard boats used everywhere else have a basic design difference. They have a different seat elevation. Seat elevation makes a huge difference on the technique of a rower. Apart from this, standard-quality boats last longer and are quicker in water.”

About the course length, Singh said: “The last 200 metres in rowing are extremely important as they require more effort to get a strong finish. The endurance of rowers is set accordingly. Training at a shorter course, rowers struggle to build an endurance level that is fit for a 2,000-metre race.” 

The Chandigarh Rowing Association, which is responsible for training rowers at the club, has raised these issues with the sports department multiple times, but got no help. 

“I have written multiple letters and spoken to authorities, but all my requests have fallen on deaf ears,” said Rajiv Sharma, secretary, Chandigarh Rowing Association. 

“The sports department has ignored our demands for long. In 2009, our rowing tower was destroyed in a fire. It has not been restored till now. Recently, one of our boat sheds was converted into a gym. It is surprising to get such treatment when we have produced so much talent over the years.”

Krishan Lal, district sports officer, Chandigarh, said: “Not all boats are of bad quality. Work is in progress to get more boats for the Lake Complex, and replace the old ones. Since this is a project requiring heavy costs, the process is taking a bit longer. But it will be done.” 

Asked about the poor maintenance of the course, Lal said: “I am not aware of any such issue.”

Chandigarh has a rich history when it comes to rowing. It is reputed for producing talents like Pooja Sangwan, Gurpreet Kaur and Manjit Singh who have represented India at Olympics, Asian Games and several other international competitions.

Known for its infrastructure and facilities, the Lake Sports Complex has hosted events like the Asian Rowing Championship in the past. What remains of it today has left the city’s rowing community unhappy. 

abhishek.s@iijnm.org

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