Swaran Singh Virk kept the Indian interest alive in the rowing competition of the London Olympics as he progressed to the quarter-finals of the men's singles sculls after quelling a late challenge from his South Korean rival in the repechage round, on Sunday.
In the men's lightweight double sculls event, the Indian duo of Sandeep Kumar and Manjeet Singh finished fourth in the heats. They will compete in the repechage round on Tuesday.
Swaran, who had to compete in the repechage round after finishing fourth in the heats on Saturday, took 7:00.49 to complete the 2-km distance at the Eton Dorney Rowing Centre.
The 23-year-old from Punjab had clocked 6:54.04 in the heats.
South Korean Kim Dongyong, who clocked 7:03.91 to finish second, also made it to the quarter-finals, which will be held on Tuesday.
Swaran led the five-rower race from the start itself and only Kim gave him competition while the others fell behind. At the 500m mark, Swarn was leading by half-a-boat and he stretched it to a lead of a boat by the halfway mark, which he maintained till the 1500m mark.
In the last 500m, Kim made a last-ditch effort to catch up with Swarn, but the Indian not only held off the challenge but also stretched the lead to win the race by one-and-a-half boat.
In the men's lightweight double sculls event, however, the Indians had to fight with Egypt to avoid finishing last in the five-team field.
They were fourth in the first 500m, fifth in the 100km and 1500m mark and then made a late surge to finish fourth in in 6:56.60 in the 2-km race.
The Italian team won the race in 6:35.72 while Portugal (6:37.91) and Canada (6:42.59) were second and third respectively.
"I am not given to big talk, but some how I had a feeling that I will make it. Now let us see what happens next. My race is now on 31st July," the Indian rower said.
Team coach Ismail Baig was delighted with India's performance on Sunday.
"Though Swarn made it to the quarter-final after qualifying in the second round with a timing of 7.00.49 in 2000m, he came first in this round and that itself is a big achievement," Baig said.
"Yesterday, Swarn had given his personal best timing of 6.54 in the first round but was not able to make it. We went with a plan. I told Swarn not to push very hard because we were confident of qualifying. But the Koreans made it tough so he had to put in bit more energy," he said.
Baig was happy that Swarn was able to negotiate the rough conditions.
"To finish first in a race in the Olympic, even if it is for qualifying is a great morale booster. The competition is very demanding and the Europeans, who are used to these conditions, start with a bit of advantage, but this is no excuse, come to think of it we have done remarkably well so far," Baig added.