Indians hope for improved show

Poncha, Pooja exude confidence


State swimmers Poncha and Alva, and the rest of the national squad, will link up in the Italian capital with Olympians Virdhawal Khade, Sandeep Sejwal and J Agnishwar, who have completed a 75-day European training-cum-competition stint.

Apart from Poncha and Alva, the other Karnataka swimmers in the squad are Arjun JP, Ashwin Menon and Shubha Chittaranjan.

Poncha has been working hard especially for the Worlds. The 22-year-old said he saw the mega event as vital preparation for the Commonwealth Games. "The Beijing Olympics was special for me. The World Championship gives me another chance to compete with the best in the world. Though I am looking forward to coming up with good timings, I will also try my best to bring home a medal,” said Poncha, who will compete in the 200 butterfly and backstroke, and the 200 and 400 individual medley.

Exciting times

The 19-year-old Alva, who will compete in the 100 and 200 fly and the 200 and 400 free, said she was excited about swimming along with the world’s best swimmers. “I am really excited to swim with top swimmers. I am looking forward to better timings,” said Alva.

Khade had won the 50M freestyle gold and a silver in the 50 butterfly in the International Schwimmfest in Darmstadt, Germany last week. Sejwal too clinched a silver in the 50 breaststroke in the same competition. "Khade is the best bet. All other swimmers are also in good shape,” said national coach Pradeep Kumar.

Upcoming swimmer Goan Talasha Prabhu got a surprise call after Shikha Tandon pulled out citing personal reasons.

The squad: Men: Virdhawal Khade, Sandeep Sejwal, Arjun JP, Ashwin Menon, Mandar Divase, J Agnishwar, Praveen Tokas.

Women: Fariha Zaman, Talasha Prabhu, Vempa, Shubha Chittaranjan, Pooja R Alva, Vandita Dhariyal.

Coaches: Brij Kanth Sharma and Nihar Ameen.

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