Tokyo 2020: Kerala swimmer Sajan Prakash makes history with ‘A’ mark

Kolkata: Sajan Prakash made history on Saturday as he became the first-ever Indian swimmer to breach the Olympic qualification time, clocking 1:56:38 seconds in the men’s 200m butterfly event at the Sette Colli Trophy in Rome, Italy.

The 27-year-old, who represented India in the 2016 Rio Olympics, made the Tokyo Games 'A' standard, set at 1:56.48 seconds, by 0.1 seconds. The Kerala swimmer has been continuously improving his performance in the 200m butterfly event.

Last week, in the Belgrade Trophy swimming competition he had clocked 1:56.96 seconds to miss the elusive ‘A’ qualification mark.

Incidentally, Dubai had played a hand in Prakash reaching the new landmark. Last year, when the Covid-19 pandemic in India made the swimming pools out of bounds, Prakash decided to move to the UAE and has been training at the Aqua Nation Sports Academy (ANSA) in Dubai since then.

Prakash, who became the first Indian swimmer to qualify for the 200m butterfly final in 32 years at the Asian Games when he finished fifth in 2018 at Jakarta, came to Dubai to train with the Indian swimming squad last year.

“We feel privileged to be a part of history. While the other members of the team left after their training camp, Sajan decided to stay back with us because he found the facilities wonderful,” Viji Susan Mathew, Managing Director of ANSA, told Gulf News over phone.

‘‘He is going to return to Dubai on June 30 and continue to train here till his departure for Tokyo. We wish him all the very best for the Tokyo campaign,’’ she added.

This is not the first time Dubai has played its part in nursing an Olympic dream. Sara Isakovic, a now retired Slovenian swimmer, trained in Dubai on her way to a silver medal in 200m freetsyle in 2008 Beijing Olympics. 

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