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Exclusive: I could not have done it without Dubai, says Prakash after Olympic 'A' qualification

rituraj@khaleejtimes.com Filed on June 27, 2021
Indian swimmer Sajan Prakash has been training at the Aqua Nation Sports Academy (ANSA) in Dubai since last year. (MyGovIndia Twitter)

Sajan Prakash became the first Indian in history to achieve the 'A' qualification time for Olympics

It’s rare for an Indian swimmer to generate a buzz on Twitter. But Sajan Prakash did that after becoming the first Indian in history to achieve the ‘A’ qualification time for Olympics while booking his place in the Tokyo Games.

The 27-year-old swimmer from Idukki, Kerala, earned his Tokyo berth on Saturday evening by clocking 1:56.38 in the 200m butterfly event at the Sette Colli Trophy in Rome.

The Tokyo Olympics ‘A’ qualifying standard for the 200m butterfly was set at 1:56.48 seconds. And Prakash completed his event in Rome 0.10 seconds faster than the ‘A’ standard time while breaking his own national record (1:56.96s) that he had set in Belgrade last week.

Remarkably, gaining the ‘A’ qualification for the Olympics with a new national record was not the only achievement from Prakash on Saturday.

He also became the first Indian swimmer in history to qualify for two Olympics, having already represented India at the 2016 Rio Games.

No wonder then that Twitter was flooded with congratulatory messages for this unassuming swimmer.

From business tycoon Anand Mahindra and politician Shashi Tharoor to actor R Madhavan, a slew of prominent Indian personalities celebrated the landmark moment in Indian swimming on Twitter.

And Prakash says his achievements would not have been possible without Dubai where he has been training at the Aqua Nation Sports Academy (ANSA) since last year.

“I could not have done it without the support in Dubai. My coach Pradeep Kumar Sir and his wife, the whole team in ANSA, all of them took care of me very well and I could not have imagined doing this without their support,” Prakash told Khaleej Times over phone from Rome.

“Yes, since last evening, we have been receiving so many calls and messages. My family, my mom, she is very happy and I feel like the weight has been lifted off my head,” he said.

After the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, Prakash was worried about his preparations in India for the Olympics and decided to move to the UAE in his bid to qualify for Tokyo.

“I was lucky that I was in Dubai since last year because it’s been so difficult for everyone. I could train in Dubai and travel (to different countries) to swim (in qualifying events) when so many swimmers were not able to swim in India,” Prakash said.

Now Prakash will return to Dubai to make his final preparations for the Tokyo Games (July 23-August 8) which begins in less than a month’s time.

“I will soon be returning to Dubai for my final preparations, my speed training. I will be in Dubai until I leave for Tokyo,” Prakash confirmed before acknowledging the challenge ahead at the first Olympics since the outbreak of Covid-19.

“Yes, we will all be in bio-bubble. We will be given the guidelines, the rules and restrictions. It’s going to be a unique Olympics!”


Rituraj Borkakoty

A big fan of the Argentina national football team, Rituraj generally writes on sports. But he deeply cherishes the time he spent with his favourite musician from Assam, India, for an interview. And he loves to bring human interest stories to Khaleej Times readers.

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