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Crossed river to go to school, Namita Chandel now India's canoening star

Crossed river to go to school, Namita Chandel now Indias canoening star

Abhijit Nair

Published: 8 Nov 2020 10:29 AM GMT

Canoeing is not a very popular sport in India. Neither does the game have a very big following nor do the players. So, it’s fairly okay if you don’t know what Canoeing is.

What is Canoeing?

Canoe is a type of a very small and light boat which is pointed at both the ends and is propelled by a paddle. This means that, Canoeing is a sport in which the player or the ‘canoeist’ tries to paddle a canoe with a single-bladed paddle.

Canoeing for women to be introduced in the Olympics for the first time in the 2020 Tokyo Games. Canoeists from across the world were trying their best to qualify for the Olympics before the pandemic struck and the quadrennial event has to be postponed for next year.

Namita Chandel Namita Chandel

Namita Chandel aiming to become the first Indian woman to qualify in canoeing at Olympics

Among the many who are sweating it out to showcase their skills in the Olympics in 2021 is India’s Namita Chandel.

Hailing from a small village in the state of Madhya Pradesh, Namita started canoeing when she was around fifteen years old. Once while reading a newspaper, Namita’s mother came across an advertisement for a canoeing academy near their house. The only requirement for getting enrolled was that the kids should know swimming. As someone who had to cross a river to get to school, Namita was well versed with swimming and so, without having any idea about the sport, she was enrolled in the academy.

Once she learnt the art of canoeing, the young Namita rose through the ranks quickly and various accolades started pouring in within no time. She went on to represent India in the 2014 Asian Games and won her first international medal for the country at the Asian Canoe Boat & Dragon Championship at Indonesia in 2015.

With the Tokyo Olympics set to host women’s canoeing event for the first time, the twenty seven year old is working hard to become the first woman to represent India in canoeing at the Olympics.

As for thousands of other athletes in the country, Namita’s routine was badly affected due to the coronavirus imposed lockdown. Due to the lack of facilities to train at home, even her fitness routine and workout sessions took a hit.

Namita Chandel Namita Chandel

Though she resumed her training in the last week of August, Namita was sacred. For her, it was like starting it from the scratch. It took her sometime to adjust to the water and boat again and get her technique right.

“I am very scared. We have just resumed our training and familiarised myself with the water and boat again. Now, if someone gets infected, then it will stop altogether. There’s so much uncertainty around what’s going to happen next, whether we will be able to continue training or not. We are being very careful and ensuring we take all the safety measures. I just want this period to end,” Namita had said to Finisher Magazine.

For someone trying to qualify for the Olympics, not training for such a long time was a huge blow. But, despite of the setbacks, she has kept going.

With the skills, determination and perseverance she possesses, it won’t be any surprise if we still see Namita Chandel in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics waving the Indian flag, despite missing out on training for such a long time.

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