Indian rower Dattu Bhokanal on Monday qualified for the Rio Olympics after winning a silver in the finals of men’s single sculls at the 2016 FISA Asian and Oceania Olympic Qualification Regatta at Chung-ju in South Korea.
The 25-year-old armyman clocked 7 mins 07.49 seconds in the 2km course to finish second and qualify for the Rio Olympics. The top seven in the finals qualified for the Rio Games.
India could not, however, book a Rio berth in the men’s light weight double sculls as the pair of Vikram Singh and Roopendra Singh finished fifth in the finals. Only top three qualify for the Olympics in this category.
He won two gold medals in the 2014 National Rowing Championships, representing the Services and represented India at the 2014 Asian Games in China.
Bhokanal’s best international achievement so far was winning a silver in men’s single sculls in the 16th Asian Rowing Championships in China last year.
Considering Bhokanal’s rise to the top level in such a short span of time, Phadnis said that he can even spring a surprise and finish at the podium in Rio Games.
“He took to rowing very late. He has been rowing for just four years only and he has won a silver in Asian Championships last year and now he has qualified for the Olympics. He should be in the top 10 in Rio but you never know he can spring a surprise,” Phadnis said.
Asked if Bhokanal may be sent abroad for training to prepare for for the Rio Games, Phadnis said, “We will discuss it with Bhokanal and his coach once they return from Korea and take a call whether he will go abroad or not. Time is short now but for sure he will go for high altitude training.”