Mumbai: Asian Games gold medal winner Bajrang Lal Takhar is targeting next month`s World Rowing Championships in Slovenia to book a berth in next year`s London Olympic Games and has been practising for the event over the last four months with new boats.
"I have been practising for the last four months with new boats procured by the federation (RFI) in Hyderabad for the World Rowing Championships in Slovenia. I would qualify if I finish among the top 15 in my event," said the 30-year-old army rower, who won the single sculls gold in last year`s Guangzhou Asian Games.
The world championships are to be held at the Slovenian town of Bled, the third time the venue is hosting it, from August 28-September 4.
Takhar is set to reach the world championship venue on August 24th, the day the facilities are open to the competitors.
If he fails to make the grade in that event, Takhar has next April`s Asian Championships in Korea to make the grade, he told reporters today at the promotional "Go for Gold" campaign launched by sports management firm Percept.
Takhar recalled the boost to his career given by his display in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
"I entered the quarter finals in Beijing which gave me a lot of confidence," he said.
The Rajasthan-born Rajputana Rifles Naib-Subedar had finished 21st overall in the last Olympic Games.
Takhar said he had never felt the necessity to take any banned substance to improve his showing in a sport where strength is of utmost importance.
"I have never taken any dietary supplements which had not been recommended by the government authorities. Even if I fall sick I take only those medicines recommended by the authorized doctors," said Takhar while responding to queries over the recent scandal when eight Indian athletes flunked dope tests.
Table tennis champion Achanta Sharath Kamal, who is also part of the campaign to mobilise support for Indian competitors ahead of the Games, is also hopeful of gaining a berth to London.
"I lost the chance to qualify for the London Games directly by five ranks following my first round upset in the World Championships. Had I made the third round I would have qualified directly," he said about his exit in May at Rotterdam when he lost 1-4 to Chinese Taipei`s Chen Chien-An.
Kamal maintained that table tennis was a totally clean sport as far as drugs were concerned as it was a game where skills were the over-riding factor.
"Table tennis is a very clean game. There is no need to rely on drugs as you need to be really fast (with hand movement) and it calls for a lot of skills. We also don`t take any dietary supplements except vitamin tablets and proteins.
We are regularly tested during training camps and competitions," he said.
Saying he had no issues with the "Whereabouts Clause" of World Anti-doping Agency as long as it is for a three-month calendar, he said he was not happy when the agency wanted to know the athletes` programme in advance for the next one year.
"WADA wanted us to give our one year plan in advance. It`s very very difficult. Three months is fine as we have to plan for an event for at least that much time in order to perform well," Sharath said.
But the 29-year-old Tamil Nadu paddler also added that he would not like to be disturbed by the Anti-Doping Agency when he was holidaying with his family.
"I won`t be comfortable when I am holidaying with my family and am not in training," he explained.
Kamal said he was aiming to make the London Games through the Asian qualifiers in April next.
"I don`t know where they will be held," he said.
Kamal conceded that the absence of a foreign coach after the last Asian Games has upset the calculations of the Indian paddlers after the exit of chief coach, Italian Massimo Constantini.
"We have been left without a coach. Even if a coach is appointed at this juncture it would be too late to make a big difference for the Olympics. We have to manage on our own though we do get the chance to be trained by former players like Kamlesh Mehta, S Raman and Chetan Baboor," he said.
Vikas Krishan, the 19-year-old Asian Games gold medal winning wrestler, and woman paddler Madhurika Patkar are also supporting the campaign launched by the sports management firm.