Swimmer Virdhawal Khade announces retirement from domestic events
After winning a 50m freestyle gold at the National Games, Virdhawal marked the moment with a remarkable celebration. He then said this would be his last event in India.
Virdhawal, representing Maharashtra, won the 50m freestyle gold, edging past Srihari Nataraj on Tuesday. He marked the moment with a remarkable celebration.
Vildhawal and his wife Rutuja Khade broke the National Games records on the way to being adjudged as the fastest swimmers of the Games. Virdhawal pipped Nataraj of Karnataka with a timing of 22.82s. Srihari stopped the clock at 22.91s for the silver.
"This was my last event in India. You might see me again as a coach someday, but this was my last competitive race here for sure," said Virdhawal after winning the gold medal.
"What is also special about this medal is that I won my first national medal back in 2001 in Goa and today it feels like life has come full circle with the gold medal at my last Nationals again in Goa," he added.
32-year-old became the youngest Indian swimmer to qualify for the Olympics in 2008.
At the 2010 Asian Games, he won a bronze medal in the 50m butterfly event and ended Indian swimming's 24-year-old medal drought.
Virdhawal first came into the national limelight in 2001 and broke several national records.
In recent years, Virdhawal had to deal with the demand of a job with the Maharashtra government and a knee injury which forced him to stay away from the pool for quite a few years.
Virdhawal, however, managed to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
Reflecting on his journey, he said, "At heart, I still feel young, but the body is feeling tired now. Too many years have gone by, and I've swum too much in this span. I don't recover as quickly as I once used to.
"Earlier I could do 10 events without breaking a sweat, but even 3 events feel like a tall order now. I still enjoy the nerves I get before the race though. I don't think that feeling will ever leave me," he signed off.