Canoers Arjun Singh and Sunil Singh Salam combined well to win India’s first medal at the Asian Games since 1994, bagging for a bronze in the men’s double 1000m event, here on Tuesday. The Indian duo clocked 3:53.329 seconds to finish third, winning the country’s only second medal in the event in the Games’ history.
In the 1994 Hiroshima edition of the Games, India had bagged a bronze in the same event through Siji Sadanandan and Johnny Rommel. Uzbekistan’s Shokhmurod Kholmuradov and Nurislom Tukhtasin Ugli won the gold clocking 3:43.796s while Kazakhstan pair of Timofey Yemelyanov and Sergey Yemelyanov claimed the silver with a timing of 3:49.991s.
While Sunil is 24-year-old and from Moirang in Bishnupur district of Manipur, 16-year-old Arjun is from Baghpat in Uttar Pradesh but now he has shifted to Roorkee, Uttarakhand.
Sunil, who is competing in only his second Asian Games after the 2018 edition, said the bronze here nullified the disappointment at Jakarta. “In 2018, we could have won a medal in the same event but things went haywire after my partner got sick on the day of competition. We competed but could not do our best. Now, its second time lucky for me (here),” Sunil said after the event.
Arjun said he couldn’t have asked for a better result in his maiden Asian Games.
“It’s a dream come true for me, and also we are only the second medallist. Medal in my first Asian Games, I can’t ask for more. My mother will be really happy,” he said. Both Sunil and Arjun currently train in Bhopal under chief coach Pijush Baroi.
Sunil Singh Salam and Arjun Singh, hailing from vastly different backgrounds, united by their unwavering love for water sports, made history by securing a bronze medal for India in the men’s double canoe 1000m event at the Asian Games, a feat not achieved since 1994.Sunil, 24, from Moirang, Manipur, and 16-year-old Arjun from Roorkee, defied the odds stacked against them to clinch the medal. Sunil’s father is a fisherman, while Arjun’s family struggled to make ends meet with his mother’s modest earnings from a medicine manufacturing factory.
Sunil, born near the Loktak Lake in Northeast India, initially faced financial challenges, but his talent led him to join the Indian Army in 2017, where he now serves as a havildar. His passion for water sports blossomed as he took canoeing lessons near the Loktak Lake and later trained in Hyderabad.
Arjun, originally from Bhagpat, Uttar Pradesh, found a mentor in his uncle, Ajit Singh, a national and international canoer. This pivotal move allowed Arjun to train at various centers, including the SAI Bhopal, where he met Sunil. Their partnership was formed just months before the Canoe Sprint World Championships in Germany, where they reached the final and finished ninth.