Swimming has been a sport where the Indian contingent has always struggled in the Olympics. After depending on Universality places in the events in the last few years, there is new light at the end of the tunnel as for the first time in history, two Indian swimmers, Sajan Prakash and Srihari Nataraj have qualified for the games on merit. The duo will be accompanied by Universality entrant Maana Patel. Let us have a brief look at all three Indian swimmers who have qualified for Tokyo Olympics 2020.
Sajan Prakash has been on an upward curve since his historic performance at the 2015 National Games in Kerala. He became the best Indian athlete at the national championships by winning 6 gold and 3 silver medals. Prakash is a holder of 11 swimming national records across freestyle, butterfly, medley and relay categories.
Prakash made history in June 2021 when he became the first-ever Indian swimmer to qualify for the Olympics with an 'A' Olympic qualification time to book his flight to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games. He clocked a record 1:56:38s in the 200m butterfly event in the Sett Colli Trophy in Rome which also doubled as an Olympic qualifier.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be the second Olympic games for Prakash after he finished 28th in the 200m butterfly heats of the 2016 Rio Olympics. Prakash dropped the freestyle events back in 2020 when he had injury concerns. His injuries did not allow him to train vociferously for the freestyle events and he eventually shifted all of his focus to the fly events.
He has previously finished 5th in the 200m Butterfly event in the Asian Games 2018, and 8th in the finals of the same event in the 2018 Commonwealth games in Australia.
Srihari Nataraj became the second swimmer to breach the 'A' qualification mark after Sajan Prakash to book his place in the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Nataraj clocked 53:77 seconds in the 100m backstroke qualifier event at the Sette Colli Trophy in Rome. Nataraj's feat also broke the national record for 100m backstrokes, being 0:13 seconds ahead of the qualification threshold.
The 20-year old will represent the Indian contingent at his maiden Olympics in Tokyo. He has earlier represented the nation in the 2019 World Aquatics Championships in South Korea, 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia and 2018 Youth Olympics in Argentina.
The 21-year old will feature in her first-ever Olympics in Tokyo after being nominated as a universality entry by the Swimming Fedeation of India (SFI) for the women's 100m backstroke event. Maana Patel has won 6 medals in the 2016 South Asian games and will be hopeful of qualifying further from the heats at the Olympics. She rose to fame early in the swimming scene in India as she broke Shikha Tandon's 200m women's backstroke record in the Junior Aquatics Championship in Hyderabad back in 2013.