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Mrunmayee — dancing away the blues

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Mrunmayee Salgaonkar, the 2019 Asian indoor rowing gold medallist, is raring to be back in the waters after being away for close to eight months because of the pandemic.

“It has been a very challenging phase. But, Kathak kept me relaxed,” said Mrunmayee at the webinar ‘Beyond The Track’, organised by Hyderabad Runners and chief National rowing coach Dronacharya Ismail Baig.

Sport and education

The 19-year-old Mrunmayee, who trains a lot at the Hussain Sagar Lake, said it was a different kind of challenge for her to balance her education (she studies in Nasik) and sport, especially during the pandemic.

“I enjoyed Kathak dancing, but nothing compares to the power I got from rowing,” the young rower recalled her early days. My dad persuaded me to take up the sport and once I felt the calmness of the water, there was no turning back,” she said.

Mrunmayee, who is a Khelo India scholarship recipient and has qualified for the National camp for Tokyo Olympics (most of the women rowers tested positive for using banned substance and are awaiting final word from NADA), said the ultimate goal is to bring laurels to the country at the highest level.

Coach Baig dwelt on the specifics of getting initiated into rowing, identifying prospective athletes, the Indian and international rowing scene, nuances of training to be a competitive rower, as well as what it takes for athletes to excel at the sport.

“Rowing takes a lot of strength and endurance from every part of the body,” he said. “The lockdown impacted routines but athletes are returning to institutes and getting back into training.”

He also called upon boys and girls to try their hand at the sport from the age of 12 at the Hussain Sagar under the guidance of qualified coaches like V.V. Rao.

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