India Sports

Arjuna Awardees in Rowing

Rowing used to be a favorite pastime of the British, and when they came to India, they brought this entertaining sport along with them. Sooner, all the coastal cities and ports became crowded with various rowing clubs, especially where the water stretches were available. Since, Calcutta was the headquarters of East India Company, the British set up the first rowing club in Calcutta in 1858. Sooner, it was followed by the inception of Madras Boat Club in 1867. Three more boat clubs were founded in Pune, Karachi and Rangoon after that.

Similar to the other sports, rowing had always been an exclusive sport, limited only to the colonial rulers of India. The members of the elite families conducted regular races between the local clubs. The British were very conscious about the standard of the sport, and as the visitors from Britain used to visit India on regular basis, they introduced the latest trends and innovations. To consolidate and organize the rowing clubs in the entire East, the Amateur Rowing Association of the East, ARAE came into existence in 1933. That was the time when annual regatta was announced to be held in India comprising of all the clubs in the month of December.

But still, there was a need of a governing body for the sport of rowing in India for national and international representation of Indian clubs. So the members of rowing clubs of Calcutta and Madras came together to form, Rowing Federation of India (RFI), in 1976. This breakthrough provided the sport of rowing, the much-needed national status and facilitated its affiliation with Indian Olympic Association, IOA, and the International Rowing Federation, FISA. This was the turning point for the sport of rowing in India.

The Rowing Federation of India, has a vision to popularize the game, which had been the sphere of a selected few, till yet. The RFI also has the objective of promoting the game to the grassroots levels and preparing the talented oarsmen to participate in the Olympics and other global events. The RFI was also instrumental in getting the game of rowing included in the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi. It was the first time that rowing was included in the Asian Games. Jaipur was selected as the venue for the rowing events for the 1982 Asian Games. India emerged as the medal winner is this event, which added to its prestige at the international level. Later on, the same group of Indian men responsible for the foundation of RFI played an instrumental role in the foundation of the Asian Rowing Federation, ARF.

Indian rowers never turned back after that and they have been consistently appearing among the top three positions since then, in the Asian Games and other regional championships. The RFI officials such as Mr. Mr. V.V.Deval, Mr K.P. Singh Deo, Mr. Borun Chanda, and Mr. A.V.Narayan Reddy have been instrumental in taking the sport of rowing to the new heights, despite the initial difficulties and problems. India is indebted to all these gentlemen, who made a huge contribution towards the development of the sport of rowing in India.

In the recently held 18th Asian Junior Rowing Championships at Nanchang, China, India topped the medal tally by winning gold in the Junior Men's Coxless Fours. Indian rowers won silver in the Women's category.

In 2010, in the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, Indian rowers won the gold medal in men's singles sculls competition. They also won silver medal in men's coxless fours in the same championship and two more silver medals each in the lightweight men's coxless fours and men's eights. The women's team also brought home a bronze.

List of Arjuna Award Winners in Rowing

YearName of the Recipient
1981Maj. Parveen Oberoy
1984Capt. M.A. Naik
1991Naib Subedar Dalvir Singh
1994Major R.S. Bhanwala
1996S. S. Waldia
1999Jagjit Singh
2000Surender Singh Kanwasi
2004Jenil Krishnan
2008Bajrang lal Thakkar
2009Satish Joshi

Last Updated on 10/09/2012