September’s rowing contests at the Hangzhou Asian Games in China saw Iranian girl Mahsa Javer take her personal tally in the history of the prestigious event to four medals.
A lightweight quadruple sculls bronze medalist in Incheon 2014, Javer was part of the Iranian team that finished as the runner-up in the category in the cohost Indonesian city of Palembang four years later, before taking credit for two of the seven Iranian female silvers in Hangzhou.
Javer teamed up with Zeinab Norouzi to finish second in the women’s double sculls final and the Iranian duo then repeated the success, along with Nazanin Malaei and Fatemeh Mojallal, in the quadruple event.
The buildup to the Games, however, was not an easy experience for Javer at all, for personal reasons, she told Iran Daily.
“We had a 30-day training camp in Russia and then I was in Iran for two or three days before spending 10 days in China for the Asian Games. I had to be away from my six-year-old daughter and my eyes filled with tears every time I saw a little child during that period. I’ve always done my best to have some time for my daughter but hours of training sometimes take your energy away,” said the Iranian.
Javar says she was still thrilled to see all that hard work eventually pay off when she and her doubles partner won a first medal for Iran in Hangzhou.
“We trained for hours on a daily basis in Russia. Zeinab and I bettered our personal record on several occasions in the training sessions and our coach believed those records would be enough for us to compete with the best in the continent at the Asian Games,” Javer said.
“We put in all our efforts to overtake the Chinese teams in both finals, but in rowing, you can’t expect to do exceptional things in a single race. You can’t reach beyond your personal records.”
China grabbed 11 of the 14 gold medals up for grabs across the male and female contests, including the ultimate priz e of the women’s quadruple sculls final for Chen Yunxia, Zhang Ling, Lü Yang, Cui Xiaotong, who stepped into the event on home soil as the reigning Olympic champions.
Uzbekistan also enjoyed a couple of final victories in Hangzhou, with the other gold going to Hong Kong.
“I was still thankful to God that all those hours of training and the long time away from my child eventually yielded success at the Asian Games. I want my daughter to be proud of her mother’s achievements when she is a grown-up,” said Javer, who shed tears when speaking about her daughter, Melin, during a TV interview after receiving the double sculls silver.
“I could only count the minutes to return to Iran after my campaign in Hangzhou was finally over. You can not imagine how I felt when I saw her in the airport. She told me: ‘What took you so long to come back, mom? Now you’ll have to take me to the park.’ We were literally inseparable for a week as it was the time for me to resume my motherhood duties,” added Javer, who is full of gratitude for her mother for being with her through all her training sessions in Iran just to look after Minel.
The professional career, meanwhile, remains a priority for Javer as she is back in training ahead of next May’s Olympic qualifiers in South Korea.
A medal in the Paris Olympics might be far beyond the Iranian girl’s reach, given “the lack of proper sculls, oars, and rowing lakes in the country,” she says, but Javer will still be looking to exceed her own personal best time in the French capital.