Hangzhou, Sep 24 (IANS): When he picked up rowing just two years back at the suggestion of a coach, Balraj Panwar would have never imagined that he would one day be competing in the final at the Asian Games.Hangzhou, Sep 24 (IANS) When he picked up rowing just two years back at the suggestion of a coach, Balraj Panwar would have never imagined that he would one day be competing in the final at the Asian Games.
The 24-year-old sepoy with the Indian Army is now in contention for his maiden medal in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, having made it to the final of the Men's Single Sculls competition.
Balraj took up the sport only in 2020 after a coach at the Indian Army's Bengal Engineer Group (BEG) suggested that he begin rowing due to his height (6 feet). The decision paid dividends as he did well in the inter-battalion event and followed it up with a good show in the inter-centre competitions to land at the Army Rowing Node in Pune in October 2021.
Since then Balraj has not looked back and has gone from strength to strength participating in the Senior Nationals, National Games in Gujarat and the World Championship in Switzerland.
Based on the tremendous improvement he showed in a month before the selection trials for the World Championship in July 2023, Panwar was picked in the Asian Games squad as a substitute for Satnam Singh, who decided to participate in double sculls. He did well in the World Championship and has been retained for the Asian Games.
The 24-year-old from Karnal in Haryana now hopes to continue with the tradition started by Bajrang Lal Thakar by winning gold in Men's Single Sculls. Panwar, a 24-year-old employed with the Indian Army qualified for the Final A by finishing third in his semifinal.
Panwar wants to win a medal in the Asian Games and dedicate it to his mother, who single-handedly raised him after his father passed away when Balraj was just 11. His mother worked in a garment factory in Karnal to raise the family and Balraj wants to do his best in Monday's final to make her happy and proud.