Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: A 7-member Swimming team, including Srihari Nataraj and Sajan Prakash will take part in the Belgrade Trophy 2021, a FINA-accredited Olympic Qualifying event, scheduled for 19th and 20th June .
Apart from Nataraj and Sajan Prakash who are hoping to make the A qualification for the Olympics , the team includes seasoned back stroker Maana Patel, youngsters Aryan Nehra, Shoan Ganguli, Tanish Mathew and Kenisha Gupta who are part of the TOPS (Target Olympic Podium Scheme) development group .
Sajan Prakash is presently training in Dubai and is expected to join the team in Belgrade by 12th June
From there the team without Nehra and Ganguli (who did not meet the qualification times), will travel to Rome, on 23rd June to take part in the annual Sette Colli Trophy which is also a FINA-accredited Olympic Qualifying event to be held on 25th, 26th and 27th June.
Seasoned coaches Nihar Ameen and Pradeep Kumar will accompany the team.
According to Swimming Federation of India (SFI) Secretary General Monal Chokshi. in Belgrade, the swimmers will be stationed at the Serbian National Swim Team training facility. This will provide a great exposure for our swimmers ahead of the two Qualifying meets. The squad is in good form, and we are expecting them to swim faster than what they did in Uzbekistan in April,”
“Both Sajan and Srihari who have broken the B qualification in their early season meets and they are confident of swimming much faster at these two competitions in Belgrade and Rome. Of the six Indian swimmers who have clocked the B qualifying time so far, three of them are currently training in the USA.
“Kushagra Rawat and Advait Page will be participating at the last qualification meet in USA on 24-27 June. SFI is hopeful that one or more of our swimmers will achieve the A cut for Olympic Games Tokyo 2020,” added Chokshi.
He was of the view that competition in Belgrade and Rome will be a great opportunity for the Olympic hopefuls to qualify and also it will provide a good exposure for the swimmers preparing for the Asian Games in 2022.
In April this year, the Indian swimmers had participated in the Uzbekistan Open, which was their first international swim meet since the Covid-19 lockdown in March last year.
“The swimmers, particularly Srihari Nataraj, did exceedingly well in the Uzbekistan Open and got closer to the A qualifying time in the 100m Backstroke event, while Sajan Parkash, Kenisha Gupta and Maana Patel posted impressive performances in their respective events.,” said SFI executive director Virender Nanavati..
Squad for 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)
Squad for Setti Colli Trophy, Rome: Srihari Nataraj , Sajan Prakash , Maana Patel , Kenisha Gupta , Tanish Mathew