As you would expect water is a theme which runs through the life of Dattu Bhokanal, the only Indian rower to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. But not necessarily in the way you would expect. The 24 year old grew up in the drought hit region of Talegaon in the western state of Maharashtra where he used to help his father, who was a farmer, dig wells to find water. When his father passed away in 2011 he had to look for work outside his village and he got a job working at a petrol station, earning £50 a month. Whilst working there he often came across young men who were looking to join the army and soon the idea of a military career began to rub off on him. “I felt inspired and started dreaming of joining the army too,” said Bhokanal. A year later his dream came true and soon after he was introduced to rowing for the first time when he was advised to give it a go because of his towering 6ft 4 inch frame. “But I never wanted to be a rower because I was scared of water and didn’t know how to swim. In fact, I saw the first water body in my life inside the army camp in the western city of Pune,” explained Bhokanal. Understandably it took a while for Bhokanal to take to life on the water “The boat toppled several times and the safety crew kept putting me back in the boat. I told myself that rowing was not my cup of tea. It took me one year to become a rower,” he added. “I was initially scared but slowly and gradually I came close to water and felt that there was a connection and it was very strong.” It certainly is strong as Bhokanal won two gold medals at his first major tournament, India’s National Games in 2014. Two years on and he has qualified for the Olympics in Rio where he will be aiming to win a medal and give his country a tonic, Indian Tonic Water of course.