India’s Maana Patel became the first female swimmer, and third from India, to qualify for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics in the women’s 100m backstroke event. Gaining a direct entry to the mega-event by virtue of a university quota, the 21-year joins Srihari Nataraj and Sajan Prakash in the contingent.
Sajan Prakash created history a few days by becoming the first-ever Indian swimmer to directly qualify for the Olympics, by breaching the A-qualification mark in the men’s 200m butterfly event. Moments later, Srihari Nataraj also achieved a similar feat in the men’s 100m backstroke event.
Maana Patel, who was already summoned as the University entry from India, was confirmed of her qualification at the upcoming mega event, in Tokyo, later this year. At the age of 21, Patel has won several gold medals in 50m and 200m backstroke events at the National Games. She also grabbed top honours in the 100m backstroke event at the 60th National School Games, in 2015, breaking the national record in the process.
In 2018, she claimed three gold medals at the 72nd Senior National Aquatics Championships. At the Senior National in Thiruvananthapuram in the same year, she walked away with all the medals in the backstroke events. Maana’s entry to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics was applauded by Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Twitter.