Udayavni Special

Swimmer Srihari Nataraj creates national record, wins second gold in Uzbekistan


PTI, Apr 18, 2021, 2:23 PM IST

Tashkent: Ace Indian swimmer Srihari Nataraj created a national record in 50m backstrokes while winning his second gold of the Uzbekistan Open Championship here.

The 20-year-old clocked 25.11 seconds to bag the top prize in the FINA-accredited Olympic qualifying event on Saturday night.

Indian swimmers enjoyed a rich haul of 29 medals — 18 gold, seven silver, and four bronze — in the meet.

It was Srihari’s third national record in two days as the Bengaluru swimmer had rewritten the national marks twice in 100m backstrokes, his pet event, earlier this week.

In 100m backstrokes in which Srihari has already achieved the ‘B’ standard time for Tokyo Olympics, the Indian had clocked his personal best of 54.10s in the heats before bettering it to 54.07s in the final to win the gold. He missed the Olympic ‘A’ qualification mark in the event by just 0.22 seconds.

Another Olympic hopeful, Sajan Prakash also dazzled in the meet, notching up gold medal-winning performances in all four categories he participated in.

On the final day on Saturday, the Kerala swimmer, who is coming off a shoulder injury, finished with a time of 53.69s in the 100m butterfly to stand atop the podium.

Maana Patel and Suvana Baskar, who clocked a personal best of 30.28 seconds, took home the gold and silver respectively in the women’s 50m backstroke event. Like Srihari, Sajan, the lone male swimmer from the country to compete at the 2016 Rio Olympics, also fell short of the Olympic ‘A’ mark for Tokyo Games.

Competing in his pet event, the 200m butterfly on Tuesday, Sajan had clocked 1.57.85s, missing the Olympics ‘A’ cut which is set at 1:56.48s.

While a ‘B’ mark means the swimmer will receive an invitation to the event if the total available quota places are not filled up, an ‘A’ standard ensures an automatic berth to line up at the Tokyo Olympics.

Apart from Sajan and Srihari, four other Indian swimmers — Virdhawal Khade, Kushagra Rawat, Aryan Makhija, and Advait Page — have achieved the B standard for Tokyo Olympics in their respective categories.

No Indian has to date achieved the ‘A’ cut for Tokyo Olympics.

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