Srihari targets Youth Olympics

Srihari targets Youth Olympics
If there was no clarity on who the next big name would be in swimming from Karnataka, then all such doubts were put to rest at the recently concluded 71st Senior National Aquatic Championships.

Srihari Nataraj came to limelight at the Junior National Aquatic Championships early this year and at the Senior meet, the Karnataka lad was class apart. He competed in five individual races, won three of them — setting two meet records and a national record -- finished second in another and was duly adjudged the best swimmer of the meet.

And not surprisingly, the 16-year-old was an elated man. “It (the meet) was good. First time winning the best swimmer at a senior meet, I couldn’t have asked for more. Things went according to plan. I did clock a few surprising timings too,” Srihari told DH.

For someone who believes in being his own critic, obviously no race goes without finding a few flaws and drawbacks. So, when everyone at the Prakash Taran Pushkar Bhavan here was busy applauding him for setting a new national record in the 200M backstroke, Srihari was a little disappointed with his performance. “It was ok. I think I could have gone much faster,” he said describing his feat.

“In Pune (at the Junior Nationals), when I first broke the record, I had completed the first 100 metres in 1:01.05, but here I took 1:01.19. That was disappointing. The plan was to go one minute flat, but then I was over a second behind, that’s something I need to work on,” explained the swimmer who idolises the legendary Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte.

‘Happy with season’

This season, Srihari’s exploits haven’t been limited to the national stage alone. At the 9th Asian Age-group Aquatic Championships, the swimmer won a medal in each of his backstroke races while clocking the ‘A’ qualifying standard for the Youth Olympics in the 200M backstroke. “I am satisfied with the way the season has been. But still, there were a few places I think I could have done better,” he said describing the season.

“At the Asian Age-group, I had a few bad finishes. I didn’t touch the pad hard so the timing didn’t get registered and so on.

“But then, it’s been a learning experience. Not just from these silly mistakes, but I have also improved on my starts and my underwater kicking,” described the Global Swim Centre trainee.

With big ticket events like the Asian Games and the Youth Olympics lined up for the coming season, Srihari knows he’ll have to take his performance a few level higher if he has to make a mark at the global stage. “The target is the Youth Olympics. I want to climb the podium there,” he said stating his target for the coming season.

“Yes, there is the Asian Games, but I think I have a chance to win a medal at the Youth Games if I continue to improve. So, if things go well, I can look for a medal at the Asian Games too. But it will be hard, really hard.”

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