Bengaluru: Swimmers Sajan Prakash and Shivani Kataria will represent India at the Rio Olympics, according to the Swimming Federation of India. The duo was selected via the Universality Rule which allows one male and female swimmer from the country to take part in the Olympics provided the country has no swimmer qualified under the ‘A’ qualification time.
The individuals in question must also have taken part in the Fina World Championships 2015 in Kazan. Virdhawal Khade, Sandeep Sejwal, Sourabh Sangvekar and Supriyo Mondal had all made the ‘B’ timings but following a meeting which included national team coach Pradeep Kumar, Wilson Cherian and SFI secretary Kamlesh Nanavati, it was decided the 22-year-old Idukki-born Prakash and 18-year-old Haryana girl Shivani would represent the nation. Prakash, who has been a consistent performer this season after his six gold-haul at the 2015 National Games in Thiruvananthapuram, will take part in the 200m butterfly event while Shivani will participate in the 200m freestyle event.
Both swimmers are part of the Fina programme and are currently training in Thailand. On the women’s side, Shivani was the lone pick as she was the only Indian female swimmer to have taken part in the world championships. “We have finalised Sajan and Shivani through universality for the Olympics,” said Kamlesh Nanavati, Swimming Federation of India secretary. “Five of our swimmers had B qualification but they were not in the top 150 B qualifiers who were taken. So we are going through universality,” he continued.
“Sajan had the best time. Sandeep was not up to the mark in Hong Kong while Supriyo didn’t participate in the world championships. Virdhawal has a got a job and is not completely focused,” he pointed out. Nanavati added that the swimmers would return to India and attend a camp in Delhi, starting July 15, before departing for the Games at the end of the month. “Sajan is in very good shape. He recently clocked 1:59.69 seconds in 200m butterfly at the 2016-17 age group long course competition at Hong Kong which is the best Indian performance. He is the first person to go below the two-minute mark,” said the national coach Kumar. On expectations from the duo, Kumar said, “I just want them to do their best and experience the Olympics.”...