Indian Army rower Balraj Panwar creates history, secures rowing quota for Paris Olympics

Balraj Panwar has secured India’s first quota in rowing for the Paris Olympics. The 25-year-old Indian Army rowing player achieved this feat by finishing third in the men’s single scull event at the 2024 World Asian & Oceania Olympic and Paralympic Qualification Regatta held in Chungju, South Korea. Panwar, who missed the bronze medal in his first attempt at the Asian Games in China last year, showcased his talent by finishing the 2000m race in a commendable time of 7 minutes and 1.27 seconds, thereby securing the Olympic quota.

Balraj Panwar, who hails from Haryana’s Kaimla village, has always been attracted to sports, but his journey into rowing began unexpectedly. “I joined the Indian Army in 2018 and that’s where I was introduced to rowing,” he said at a media interaction organised by the Sports Authority of India in association with the Indian Olympic Association and the Rowing Federation of India on Thursday. “There are a lot of sports in the Army and when I joined, there was a rowing competition going on. I participated and was instantly interested.” This new passion quickly turned into a career, putting him on a path that would eventually lead to the Olympics.

Despite being relatively new to the sport, Panwar’s passion and natural aptitude for sailing made him a great success. “The Asian Games was my first big international tournament, and I’ve only been sailing for three years,” he said. Remarkably, in his first attempt, he managed to qualify for the Olympics, which is a testament to his hard work and the support of his coaches and team.

Participating in the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China was an important experience for Panwar. “With each tournament, our experience increases,” he said. “The Asian Games was an important step in my journey.” Experiencing intense competition and international standards has been invaluable in his preparation for the Olympics. Proper nutrition is another important aspect of Panwar’s training. His diet is carefully managed by a nutritionist to ensure he maintains optimal physical condition. “The diet is completely arranged by our team nutritionist and we follow it,” the rower said.

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