Mumbai, July 1 (IANS) Young Indian swimmer Srihari Nataraj has been training like a ‘crazy’ without a break for 15 months as he chased the ‘A’ standard qualifying mark in the 100m backbone to a confirmed berth at the Tokyo Games Olympics. He achieved this on Wednesday when his quay was confirmed.
With just over 22 days left until the start of the Olympics, the dream came true for 20-year-old Nataraj, who had achieved the ‘B’ qualification mark in the FINA World Junior Championship in 2019, as his qualifying time, put in a separate time trial in Rome, was approved by FINA, the sport’s world governing body on Wednesday.
Srihari Nataraj Olympic qualifying time of 53:77 [secs] swam in the time trial at the Sette Colli Trophy confirmed by FINA. SFI had presented its representation to FINA for this..Srihari joins Sajan Prakash as India’s A-qualifier entry to Tokyo, ”the Swimming Federation of India (SFI) tweed on Wednesday.
But the bigger test for Nataraj is starting now – to reach his second dream and reach the semifinals in the 100 m backstroke. To do so, Nataraj will not only have to continue training as a “maniac”, but also overcome the additional obstacle of three days of extra quarantine to be imposed on Indian participants after landing in Tokyo.
Nataraj has returned to Bangalore after his journey in Rome, and from there he travels to Tokyo.
Sajan Prakash, the second Indian to have achieved the ‘A’ qualification mark, will continue to train in Dubai and thus does not have to undergo the three-day quarantine in Tokyo. The local government in Tokyo has imposed these additional measures on athletes from 11 countries, including India and the United Kingdom.
The new measures do not make it clear whether Nataraj would gain access to the pool during the three-day period, although he will take his land training. The rules allow athletes under special quarantine the opportunity to train in isolation, but it is not clear how the organizers will cope.
But for now, Nataraj is not thinking that far.
“I do not think as far away as I do now. I am not yet officially informed of these rules. I will soon be sitting down with coach Nihar sir and other members of my team and planning for the Olympics. I have been training like a crazy man daily without any break for the last 14-15 months, ”Nataraj told IANS.
After fulfilling his dream, Nataraj is relieved as it happened under difficult circumstances and came on the last day of the qualifying period.
“I am very relieved to receive the qualification mark ‘A’. Glad it had finally happened. It was a big thing in my head for more than a year, ”Nataraj said.
The goal for Nataraj is now to get to the semifinals of his pet event – 100m backstroke.
bsk / qma