In an enormous boost for Srihari Nataraj and Indian swimming, the umbrella organization of sport FINA approved the standard qualification time “A” for the Bengalurian swimmer and thus secured a ticket for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Srihari Nataraj completed 53.77 seconds in a 100m back time trial at the Sette Colli Trophy in Rome, Italy. That was a day after Sajan Prakash qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics at the same event.
Read: Turning point for Indian swimming: Sajan Prakash and Srihari Nataraj qualify for Tokyo
This is the first time two Indian swimmers have competed in the Olympics.
The Indian Swimming Association confirmed Srihari Nataraj’s qualification for Tokyo via social media.
“Update on Olympic qualification! Srihari Nataraj’s Olympic qualification time of 53:77 in the time trial at the Sette Colli Trophy is confirmed by FINA. The SFI presented its representation to FINA for this. Srihari joins Sajan Prakash as India’s A qualifier for Tokyo, ”tweeted the association.
Sajan Prakash previously made history when he became the first Indian swimmer to break the A qualifying mark in the 200-meter butterfly event. Srihari Nataraj missed the cut by a hair, landing 0.05 seconds behind the qualifying mark.
After the disappointment, Srihari Nataraj was granted a time trial by the organizers of the Sette Colli Trophy on the last day of Olympic qualification. In the time trial, swimmers don’t compete with others, they swim to improve their timing.
The organizers sent the results to FINA, which later approved the time trial, paving Srihari Nataraj’s way to Tokyo.
Also read: Tokyo Olympics: Sajan Prakash’s Swimming Qualification – Can India Make The Most Of It?
Srihari Nataraj and Sajan Prakash can make waves at the Tokyo Olympics
Sandeep Sejwal, who represented India at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, said the moment will change the way Indian swimming is viewed.
“What the qualification did is that it removed the mental block. After watching these two it will open up a lot of opportunities for Indian swimmers. The positive effect of the qualification will change the game in Indian swimming. The swimming standard is now gradually getting better. These two showed the way and made it clear to all of us that it is not impossible for an Indian swimmer to achieve an Olympic qualifying A-cut. Both Sajan Prakash and Srihari Nataraj have now given a different perspective on Indian swimming, ”said Sandeep Sejwal in an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda.
Sandeep Sejwal added that both Srihari Nataraj and Sajan Prakash can go well into the four-year games.
“This means that both Sajan Prakash and Srihari Nataraj measured the time that the best 16th swimmer achieved at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. It might be good for them to make it into the top 16 this time in Tokyo, ”explained Sandeep.
The Olympian said both swimmers should enjoy the moment and do their best in the pool.
“Attending the Olympics is a great memory in itself and you should cherish it. They should enjoy what they do best – swim fast, ”he concluded.
For Srihari Nataraj it is the first time at the Olympics, but Sajan Prakash is there for the second time after his appearance in Rio de Janeiro five years ago.
Also read: Tokyo Olympics: The Best Aspiring Swimmers To Watch Out For