Poncha, Sejwal keen to shine in Tokyo

Swimming: After Rome, Indians target Asian Age Group


Sandeep Sejwal

The two Olympians, who reached home on Tuesday, said they were keen to put the Rome lessons straight to use when they start their campaign in the Asian Age-group championship beginning Saturday in Tokyo.

Poncha erased national marks in the 200M individual medley (2:06.29), 400IM (4:31.34) and 200 backstroke (2:06.92) while Sejwal bettered national records in the 50 breaststroke (27.92), 100 breaststroke (1:01.20) and 200 breaststroke (2:13.22).

“I am really pleased with my performance in the medley events and 200 backstroke. But in the 100 and 200 fly timings were less than impressive. To get a chance to compete with (Michael) Phelps, Aaron (Piersol) once again after Beijing is great. I have learned a lot from these swimmers,” Poncha said.

Banking on the experience gained from Rome, Poncha said he was looking forward to a rich haul of medals in Tokyo.

“I will be surprised if I fail to win medals in Japan,” said Poncha, who celebrated his 23rd birthday last Monday.

The 20-year-old Sejwal was particularly impressive in the 50 breaststroke as the Delhiite came close to booking a place in the semis.

“I was pretty close in getting into the next round and it was very satisfying for me. It was my first Worlds and I hope to do better next time. 

“Looking at the Japan meet, it  is so near, I am tired after the European tour and World championship.”

“Last time I won gold in 100 breaststroke and silver medals in the 50 and 200 backstroke. This time I like to win gold in all the three with better timings,” said Sejwal.
Terming slight fever as the reason for him not finding personal best times in the 50 and 100 free and 50 fly in Rome, Virdhawal Khade, who was expected to spearhead India’s challenge, said: “It happens to every sportsperson and last week it happened to me. Now I am looking forward to the Asian Age Group meet. Hope things will get better there,” Virdhawal said. Mandar Divase also found a new national mark in the 1500 freestyle, clocking 16 minutes 12.28 seconds.

Coach Nihar Ameen described the swimmers’ performance as fantastic. “(Sandeep) Sejwal was in top form all through the Eurpoean tour and later in the World Championship. I think all our swimmers were pretty good there,” said Nihar.

The swimmers will leave for Tokyo on Friday morning. The swimming events are from August 10 to 13.

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