Rowers Achanta Sharath Kamal i G Sathiyan have a great chance to represent India at the Tokyo Olympics starting on July 23rd. Although their performances in the WTT Contender series in Doha were not up to par, world rankings Kamal and Sathiyan will play a crucial role in their qualifiers.
They have two back-to-back events for that. First in line are the World Qualifiers, which begin on March 14, provided the Indians give up on the Worlds, the star rowers have a reserve at the Asian qualifying event starting on March 18, also in Doha.
With two entries awarded by the National Olympic Committee (NOC) at the Tokyo Olympics, every rower must secure a well-deserved journey. If any of the Indians qualify for Tokyo Olympics from the worlds – which will be difficult – others can do from the Asian encounter.
Road to the Tokyo Olympics for Sharath Kamal, G Sathiyan
In any case, if none of the Indians are able to leave a mark on the world event, the Asian qualifiers serve as the perfect platform for Kamal and Sathiyan to shine.
As top Asian rowers have already booked their seats at the Tokyo Olympics through a team championship held in Portugal last year, the Indian duo is sticking to the edge of higher-ranked Asians.
The only competition the Indians could face is Kazakhstan’s Kirill Gerassimenko (46) and Noshad Alamiyan (73) of Iran. By the way, Kamal defeated Alamiyan in the 2016 Asian qualifying event to book his berth for the Rio Games. Kamal is currently in 32nd place, while Sathiyan is in 37th place.
With six places to plunder from the events of March 20-20, Kamal and Sathiyan must do so easily. If one makes the leap from qualifying, the other will get another chance in the South Asian regional competition, and Pakistan’s Muhammad Rameez is likely to be the only competitor. The world rankings will also work in India’s favor, but it doesn’t seem to be necessary.
Hopes rest on Manika Batra, Sutirtha Mukherjee in a women’s event
In the women’s category, they are hoping for India Manika Batra and Sutirtha Mukherjee for the Tokyo Olympics. While Batra is in 63rd place, Mukherjee is currently sitting in 95th place. Thai Suthasini Sawettabut (40th) is the best ranked Asian in the women’s draw.
Under the men’s qualifiers, six places will be offered at the women’s event, and both Batra and Mukherjee will have to bring out their A matches to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. The qualification procedure is the same as their male counterparts.
The third chance for the Indians to qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo is through mixed doubles in the Asian qualifiers. With seven seats already reserved, the burden will be on Kamal and Batra to raise the Indian flag higher.
If all goes well, 18th-ranked Kamal-Batra duo could face 5th-ranked Korean pair Jeon Ji-hee and Lee Sang-su in a clash at the top. The Indian duo will be the first to represent the country at the Tokyo Olympics provided they qualify.
The WTT Contender series did not provide the desired results, but back-to-back tournaments provide the Indians with perfect international preparation. I hope it doesn’t disappoint.