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Balraj secures India’s first quota in rowing for Paris Olympics

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New Delhi, April 21: Balraj Panwar secured India’s first Paris Olympics quota in rowing by finishing third in the men’s single scull event of the 2024 World Asian and Oceanian Olympic and Paralympic Qualification Regetta in Chungju, South Korea on Sunday.
The 25-year-old Indian Army rower, who narrowly missed out on a bronze in his maiden appearance at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China last year, clocked 7:01.27 minutes to finish third in the 2000m race and seal the quota.
In the men’s single scull, the top five make the Olympics cut.
In the men’s lightweight double sculls, where India participated at the last Olympics in Tokyo, the country failed to qualify.
In an event where the top-two earn the quota, the Indian duo of Ujjwal Kumar and Arvind Singh finished third.
India will thus have a solitary entry in rowing at the quadrennial extravaganza slated from July 26.
Arjun Lal and Arvind Singh represented the country in men’s lightweight double scull at Tokyo Olympics and returned with an 11th place finish.
The Asian Qualifiers were held simultaneously with the Asian Rowing Cup where India won a gold medal courtesy the duo of Salman Khan and Nitin Deol in men’s double scull event.
A day after their achievement, Panwar, who hails from Karnal in Haryana, put up a dominant show after a slow start.
In the first 500m leg, Panwar was lying third behind eventual gold medallist Vladislav Yakovlev of Kazakhstan and Hong Kong’s Hin Chun Chiu.But Panwar used his power to race ahead and grab the lead, passing the halfway mark (1000m) with a timing of 3:25.51.
He held on to his lead till the penultimate stretch of 1500m, which he crossed with a timing of 5:12.67, three seconds ahead of his Hong Kong rival.
But Yakovlev produced a superb recovery in the final lap and took the top spot with a timing of 6:59.46 seconds.
Indonesia’s Memo Memo also finished within 7 minutes to get past Panwar and take the second spot. (PTI)

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