Rower Dattu Bhokanal enters quarterfinals

Indian rower Dattu Baban Bhokanal entered the quarterfinals of the men’s single sculls after finishing third in his qualifying round of the Rio Olympics here on Saturday.

Fighting on: India's Dattu Bhokanal timed 7:21.67s In the first heat of the day, to enter the quarterfinals of the men’s single sculls

In the first heat of the day, Armyman Bhokanal finished the 2000m race in 7:21.67s behind Angel Fournier Rodriguez of Cuba (7:06.89s) and Mexico’s Juan Carlos Cabrera (7:08.27s).

Bhokanal was in second place for the first 500m, but started to lag behind once the Mexican in lane 2 picked up the pace around the 700-m mark.

The Indian finished 15th overall among the 18 who qualified for the round of last eight, which will come off on Tuesday.

The well-built Cuban and the Mexican then increased their lead from the rest but Bhokanal maintained his third position although he was more than 13 seconds behind the second-placed Cabrera.

A silver medallist in the Asian rowing championship in men’s singles sculls, Bhokanal was into double sculls initially but because of injury woes to his partner Om Prakash he had to switch to single sculls.

For, Bhokanal, who had clocked 7:7.49s in the FISA Asian and Oceania Olympic qualification regatta at Chung-ju in South Korea to qualify for Rio, the story of his grit and determination continues.

During the qualifying regatta, his mother, Asha Bhavana Bhokanal had been waging a battle for her life in the ICU.

But that did not deter him from achieving his dream of representing India in the Olympics.

“Yes, it is a huge thing for me. I thought qualification for Rio is the best gift I could have given her and that spurred me on,” Bhokanal had told The Hindu in an exclusive interview.

And it still spurs on the Pune-based Army rower, the lone ranger in rowing from India.