Haryana coach Chand Chahal breaks into Army's Rowing monopoly
Haryana won 3 silvers and 1 bronze at the National Games in Rowing as a coach helps his wards smash into a domain usually dominated by the Indian Army.
Ahmedabad: Services surged into the top spot of the National Games 2022 medal tally as athletes from the Indian Army asserted their dominance in the sport of Rowing on Monday.
But with four medals won by his team, Haryana-based private coach Chand Chahal broke into the tight monopoly held over the sport by the Army.
"The Indian Army has made a good start in growing the sport of Rowing in our country, but the one drawback is that they cannot bring up athletes from the grassroots. Once adults get enrolled into the Army, only then can they start Rowing. And because they have good physique already, they do well in this sport," he told The Bridge during a conversation on the Sabarmathi Riverfront.
A former Armyman himself and a former national-level gold medallist in Rowing, Chahal wanted to start a private academy in his hometown, Haryana's Jind, so that he could bring in youngsters to the sport.
"If we can start training rowers from a younger age, their technique can be even better," he said.
One of his students, Savitha, who won the silver medal in the lightweight women's doubles sculls event, is one of the success stories of this model. Someone who he brought over from the more popular sport of Wrestling because he spotted the potential in her, she is also one of his students who he trains for free because she cannot afford a fee.
"I am here all because of my coach. This is my first ever medal in Rowing at a national event. I started training in this sport less than a year ago," Savitha said.
Chahal himself is satisfied with the beginning he has made, as his wards eat into the Army's territory on the waters, but he wished there are other private academies who follow his lead across the country.
"Like India has one state-of-the-art Rowing facility in Pune run by the Army, China has nine centres. Imagine the wide talent pool that could be had if we had a similar system," said Chahal.