Top Indian swimmers will leave for Serbia next week to participate in the Belgrade Trophy, a FINA accredited Olympic qualifying event, which will be held on June 19 and 20. Sajan Prakash and Srihari will are aiming to attain the A-qualifying mark in the upcoming event secure berths for the Olympics.
No Indian has ever qualified for the Olympics by breaching the A-mark and the story has been the same this time too. Although Srihari Nataraj and Sajan Prakash have attained the B-qualification mark each, they are yet to clock the cut-off time for the Tokyo Olympics. Srihari Nataraj came tantalizingly close to gain qualification during the Uzbekistan Open Championship in Tashkent earlier this year but fell short by 0.22 seconds.
However, both of them will get another shot at the Belgrade Trophy, a FINA accredited Olympic qualifying event, which will be held on June 19 and 20. A three-member Indian swimming team, including Srihari Nataraj, will leave for Serbia, on Tuesday night. Meanwhile, Sajan Prakash, who is training in Dubai, will join the team in Belgrade, by June 12.
Apart from the two Olympic aspirants, other swimmers like Maana Patel, Aryan Nehra, Tanish Mathew, Kenisha Gupta and Shaon Ganguli will also feature in the upcoming event. Following this, most of the swimmers will travel to Rome on June 23, to take part in the annual Sette Colli Trophy, which is also an Olympic qualifying event and is scheduled to be held on June 25, 26 and 27.
“The Indian swimmers, particularly Srihari Nataraj, had done exceedingly well in the Uzbekistan Open and got closer to the A qualifying time in the 100m backstroke event. They have been shaping up really well and we are hopeful that they will be able to achieve the qualifying mark before the cut-off date,” said SFI (Swimming Federation of India) executive director Virender Nanavati.
Out of the six swimmers already attaining the B-qualification mark, three are training in the USA. Kushagra Rawat and Advait Page will be participating in the last qualification event in the USA from June 24-27.
India’s squad for the Belgrade Trophy:
Srihari Nataraj (50m & 100m Backstroke), Sajan Prakash (100 & 200m Butterfly, 200m Freestyle), Maana Patel (100m Backstroke), Kenisha Gupta (50m & 100m Freestyle), Tanish Mathew (100m,200m Butterfly,200 Free), Aryan Nehra (200m,400m,1500m Freestyle), Shoan Ganguli (200m, 400m Individual Medley, 100,200m Butterfly)
India’s squad for the Setti Colli Trophy in Rome:
Srihari Nataraj (50m & 100m Backstroke), Sajan Prakash (100 & 200m Butterfly, 200m Freestyle), Maana Patel (100m Backstroke), Kenisha Gupta (50m & 100m Freestyle), Tanish Mathew (200m Freestyle, 200m Butterfly).