Upcoming Salman Khan (Army) and comeback-man Dattu Bhokanal (Maharashtra) pulled away the general focus of the 'Services-Army battle' with brilliant performances to reach the finals of the Men's Single Sculls event in the 24th Open Sprint National at the Army Rowing Node, CME, on Saturday.
As a result, the 2022 National champion Salman and 2018 Rio Olympian Dattu proved that they, too, can be the best on a given day.
Haryana-born Salman, standing tall at 6 feet 5 inches, pushed out a 1 minute 36.8 seconds effort to cut short Satnam Singh's (1:40.8s) run over the 500-meter sprint in the first semifinal.
In the second semifinal, Dattu registered the best timing of the two semifinals clocking 1:31.7s to give Maharashtra hope on the morrow. Dattu pushed aside the challenge of Tokyo Olympian Arvind Singh (Services) who managed 1:32.7s to set up an interesting final that will determine the fastest of the meet.
With the event pushing late into the evening and races still to be completed, powerhouses Services made it to 4 finals, namely the Single Sculls (M1X), Coxless Fours (M4-), Double Sculls (M2X) and will have the Army to challenge them. The other events where Services ensured their presence in the finals were the LightWeight Double Sculls (LM2X) wherein the Arjun Lal Jat and Ajay Tyagi pair clocked 1:29.1s.
In the women's section, Kerala, Manipur and Haryana occupied places in three finals each to make it an open section.
Maharashtra overall had a good day in the office. With Dattu setting the pace, the Coxless Pairs duo of Tejas Shinde and Omkar Mhaske (1:28.1s) took pole position. The effort by the Bombay Engineer Group and Centre pair was the best timing for their event. The other semifinal winners Punit Kumar and Ashish (Services) had 1:31.2s to their name.
Maharashtra eves also booked two spots in the finals with second-place finishes in their semifinals. In Single Sculls Mrunmayee Salgaokar (1:52.7s) was placed behind Uttar Pradesh (Kirandevi; 1:51.5s), while in the Coxless Pairs Komal Bodke and Bhagyashri Chavan (1:50.7s) finished behind Kerala duo Devapriya and Arundathi YJ 1:49.4s. (ANI)