The coronavirus pandemic hit the sports of swimming hard and Indian swimmers were among the last athletes to resume their training before the Olympics. Even today, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding their participation and qualification for the Tokyo Olympics.
To this date, no Indian swimmer has managed the OQT qualification standard which confirms a berth in the upcoming Olympics. Instead, they have to rely on the B-Qualification Standard or the OST.
Six Indian swimmers have achieved the B-qualification standard for Tokyo Olympics and we'll talk about them below:
1. Srihari Natraj (100m Backstroke – 54.07)
With a national record of 54.69s in the 100m Backstroke Event at the FINA World Championships in Budapest, Srihari Natraj secured the B-qualification standard for the Olympics. At the Uzbekistan Open Championships, Srihari Natraj broke his national record twice – in the heats (54.10s) and in the final (54.07s).
The 22-year-old fell just 0.22 seconds short of the direct Olympic A qualification mark (53.85s) but he is confident that he can meet the target in his next race. The Swimming Federation of India (SFI) has begun the VISA process necessary for Srihari Natraj to take part in the Belgrade Tour in Serbia on June 19 and 20. That event will be followed by the Settecolli International Trophy in Rome, Italy, from June 25-27.
2. Kushagra Rawat (400m Freestyle – 3:52.75, 800m Freestyle – 8:07.99, 1500m Freestyle – 15:25.22)
At the New South Wales Open Swimming Championship, Kushagra Rawat clocked 3:52.75 in the 400m Freestyle Event to win the Bronze medal and make the B-qualification cut. Rawat is still six seconds away from the Olympic A standard at 3:46 seconds in 400m Freestyle. Though he has also cleared the 'B' marks in both 800m as well as 1500m, Rawat is most inclined to the 400m event.
3. Sajan Prakash (200m Butterfly – 1:58.45)
Sajan Prakash had competed at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the 200m Butterfly event. He achieved the B Qualification Mark in 200m Butterfly at the 10th Asian Age Group Championship in 2020. Sajan has been training in Dubai and much like Srihari Natraj, the Swimming Federation of India has also started the VISA process for Sajan Prakash to take part in the Belgrade Tour in Serbia and the Settecolli International Trophy in Rome.
4. Advait Page (800m Freestyle – 8:00.76)
Advait Page, who is based in US, achieved the B qualification mark for the Tokyo Olympics at the Singapore National Championships in 2019. Advait clocked a timing of 8:00.76 for Men's 800m Freestyle, falling almost six seconds short of the A qualification mark (7.54:31).
5. Aryan Makhija (800m Freestyle – 8:07.80)
Aryan Makhija is enrolled at the Auburn University and he flew to Alabama, United States in mid-July last year to resume his education and training amidst the lockdown in India. He is eyeing A qualification standard for Tokyo 2020.
6. Virdhawal Khade (50m Freestyle – 22.44s)
Virdhawal Khade competed in the Men's 50m, 100m, and 200m Freestyle events at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In the 2019 qualification cycle, he clocked 22.44 seconds in the 50m Freestyle event and ended up achieving the B qualification mark.