FINA ratifies Srihari’s A-mark

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Srihari Nataraj has become the second Indian after Sajan Prakash to secure A-mark Olympic Qualification Time, after his time of 53.77s in a 100m backstroke time trial in Rome last weekend was ratified by FINA, the Swimming Federation of India announced on Wednesday.

Sajan had breached the A-mark in 200m butterfly on Saturday with a timing of 1:56.38s (A-mark: 1:56.48s) to become the first Indian ever to achieve the feat.

Srihari’s timing required FINA’s approval because it was clocked at a requested time trial after the youngster had missed the A-mark (53.85s) by five hundredths of a second last Friday. The 20-year-old can now heave a sigh of relief and look forward to joining Sajan on the trip to Tokyo as Monal Chokshi, SFI secretary, confirmed that Srihari’s name was on the FINA list, and that the official letter would arrive Thursday or later.

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“I was very anxious but I was well distracted because we went around sightseeing in Rome,” said Srihari. “That distracted me for a couple of days but I was anxious and [it was] a big relief when I found out.”

Srihari said that he drew inspiration from Sajan. “I am very happy that he did it and it’s a huge thing. He proved that it was possible, even at that age (27) and with all the injuries he went through. It was a motivation that I can do it too. I saw him drop from 1:57 in Uzbekistan to 1:56 and that showed it wasn’t impossible for me to drop another 0.2 seconds a day later.”

Srihari will now be training in Bengaluru, where the State Government, through an order on Wednesday, has permitted the opening of “one designated swimming pool only for training of swimmers for Tokyo Olympics.”

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“There are three weeks left [for Tokyo] and there will be a lot of competition. The main goal is to get a better time. Based on past history and if I can drop [the time] a bit, I see myself making the semifinals. That is the goal,” Srihari added.

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