Indian swimmer Srihari Nataraj, aiming for a Tokyo Olympics berth, is out of action for weeks with the second lockdown in Karnataka not permitting to open swimming pools for the time being. The Indian is yet to secure Olympic A qualification mark, falling short by a whisker last month in Tashkent.
It was only last month that Srihari Nataraj broke the national record in the 100m backstroke twice, during the Uzbekistan Open Swimming Championships, in Tashkent. However, his best timing of 54.07 seconds was still shy of the Olympic A qualification mark of 53.85 seconds.
Even though Srihari is one of the six swimmers to have gained the Olympics B qualification mark, it does not guarantee him a place at the event. However, the strokers have a deadline till June 27 for attaining A qualification mark and secure quotas for the quadrennial event. B
But, with the lockdown imposed in Karnataka, which does not allow the opening of swimming pools, Srihari has not trained in a pool for almost a week. With no support from the local government, the stroker is in a race against time to prepare himself and qualify for the Olympics.
“I’ve not trained in the pool for almost a week. The state government hasn’t given permission to open swimming pools, even for the elite swimmers. Without training in an Olympic size 50 metres pool it is not possible to perform well in competitions," said Srihari Nataraj, to IANS.
“Despite the fact the deadline to achieve A qualification time for swimmers to compete at the Olympics is June 27, elite Indian swimmers are struggling to practice. With no support from the local government it has become impossible to practice on a regular basis," he added.