A six-footer from south Calcutta has made it to the Indian team for the World Junior Rowing Championships, which started in Tokyo on Wednesday.
Pratik Gupta, 17, is competing in the quadruple sculls for boys, in which a boat has four rowers, each with two oars.
India is participating in two other events, the boys’ and girls’ four, in which a boat has four rowers but each with a single oar.
Pratik, who lives near the Rashbehari Avenue gurdwara and trains at The Bengal Rowing Club, is the sole representative from Calcutta.
It has been a while since a rower from Calcutta made it to the Indian team for a world championship, Calcutta rowing circuit veterans said.
The last to make it to the Indian team was Ranjan Banerjee, one of the most respected rowers from the state who represented India in the world championships in Germany in 1983.
“I will try not to be over- whelmed by the big stage and give it my best shot,” the Class XI student of South Point High School told Metro before leaving the city on Saturday.
Pratik tasted international success in April. He was part of the Indian team that topped the medal charts at the Asian Indoor Rowing Championships held in Pattaya, Thailand. Indoor rowing involves a machine called ergometer that simulates the experience of rowing in water.
“The world championship is the biggest tournament for rowers. Top rowers from all over the world are going to fight for a place on the podi- um,” Rajesh Agarwal, the captain of the oars at The Bengal Rowing Club, said.
The World Rowing Junior Championship is held annually for rowers who are 18 or younger. The venue in Tokyo is the Sea Forest Waterway, built for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“It is the biggest tournament for junior rowers. Britain and Germany are the favourites but all European teams are very good. By competing with the world’s best, our rowers will get a huge exposure,” Raj Laxmi Singh Deo, the president of the Rowing Federation of India, said.
A camp was held in Hyderabad in October last year to select the Indian team. Pratik earned his slot in the camp by winning silver in the single sculls in the Junior Nationals in Bhopal the same month. Another camp was held in Hyderabad last month, this time for those selected for the world championships.
Pratik at 6’1″ weighs 80kg and is a vegetarian. He said he owed his “strapping physique” to father Dilip Kumar Gupta, a former state-level boxer. On a completely oil-free diet, he derives his protein from tofu, paneer, boiled soya chunks and rajma.
“Pratik is one of the most exciting young rowers on the junior circuit. His strength and stamina set him apart. He has a strong work ethic and gives his 100 per cent at every practice session,” Agarwal said.
Each of the oars in the event Pratik is competing in weighs around 2.5kg. One has to manoeuvre them against the water for 2km — the standard course in international events.
The training at the camp was rigorous, he said. There were three practice sessions, early morning, afternoon and evening. The gym sessions included endurance squats and weight training.
Pratik used to play basketball and he switched to rowing following a school senior’s advice. He took up the oars three years ago. Last June, he had won the gold in the men’s fours in the National Challengers in Chennai.
Source: The Telegraph