Indian rowers Arjun Lal Jat and Arvind Singh qualified for the Olympics in men’s lightweight double sculls event after finishing second in the final race of the Asia/Oceania Continental Qualifying Regatta in Tokyo on Friday. Another Indian, Jakar Khan finished fourth in the men’s singles sculls final which offers five Olympic quotas but he missed out as a country gets only one qualifying spot from this regatta.
The top three qualify for Olympics in men’s lightweight double sculls event. “A country can qualify in only one boat from this regatta and since Arjun Lal Jat and Arvind Singh had finished second in men’s lightweight double sculls, they will qualify," Rowing Federation of India president Rajlaxmi Singh Deo told PTI.
“Jakar Khan finished fourth in men’s singles sculls and unfortunately, he will not qualify for Olympics. Arjun Lal and Arvind Singh were better placed as they were second," she added. Arjun Lal and Arvind will be the only Indian rowers in Tokyo Games which open on July 23 as the country will not participate in other Olympic qualifiers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There is another Olympic qualifier in Italy but we are not sending anybody due to the COVID-19 situation. So, this will be our only participation in the Olympics," Deo said referring to the deadly second wave in the country which has led to several countries imposing bans on flights from India. A 14-member Indian team participated in the event held at the Sea Forest Waterway on Tokyo Bay.
“A steady pace throughout the 2000m course was key to success. The Indian team, in fact, covered the last 500m of the 2000m course faster than the eventual winners. It was a good performance," an official of the Rowing Federation of India (RFI) told IANS.
Uzbekistan were third while Indonesia won the fourth spot. Hong Kong finished fifth and Kazakhstan sixth. The top three teams won Olympic quota places.
Since Jakar Khan had posted a good time in his Thursday’s preliminary round of the men’s single scull, he also has a good chance of winning an Olympic quota place, said the RFI official. The semi-finals and final are scheduled for Friday.
All the participating teams had to follow strict Covid-19 protocols. A member of Sri Lanka’s support staff tested positive for the virus but reports of all other coaches and athletes were negative. “The rowers were tested on Wednesday and again on Thursday for Covid-19 to ensure safety of the competitors," said the Indian team official.
More than 75 athletes from Asian countries are participating in the Olympic qualification tournament.
(With inputs from Agencies)