Khade loses out on bronze by a whisker

Khade loses out on bronze by a whisker

India's Virdhawal Khade finished fourth in the 50m freestyle final in Jakarta on Monday.

Virdhawal Khade raised hard questions about his future in the sport as he finished a fighting fourth in the 50M freestyle in Asian Games swimming on Tuesday.

Khade, who had set a national record in the morning heats to storm into the final, couldn’t reproduce the same effort as he missed out on a bronze by one-hundredths of a second.

At the GBK pool, Khade timed 22.47 seconds in a closely-fought race. Even past the half-way mark, it was hard to spot a clear leader but in the last few metres, China’s Yu Hexin pulled away to take the gold in 22.11 seconds.

Japan’s Katsumi Nakamura splashed to silver in 22.20 seconds but the third place seemed almost a dead-heat between Japan’s Shunichi Nakao and Khade. The scoreboard though flashed a disappointing verdict for the Indian — Nakao third in 22.46 and Khade fourth in 22.47.

“It is disappointing that I couldn’t win a medal. I was targeting gold and realistically it was possible. It just didn’t happen,” said Khade, who had won a bronze at the 2010 Asian Games in the 50M butterfly. He was fourth in the 50 freestyle at that Games too.

Khade was forced to take a break from the sport as he landed a job in Maharashtra government. He came back only last September and went on to compete in the Commonwealth Games.

In the morning heats, Khade had broken his national mark of 22.52 with a 22.43-second burst that powered him to the final.

“In such a short time, I have improved so much. It just shows that I need to work harder. So I am taking positives out of this event and going to prepare for the Olympics,” he said.

But that won’t be easy, as the tehsildar with the Maharashtra government could find it hard to balance his job commitments. “It is hard to take big breaks from my job. Now I have been posted in Mumbai and my boss is very lenient. But it could get tougher in future. Swimming is not a financially rewarding sport and I just can’t leave the job to focus on sport,” rued Khade.

The 26-year-old has two more events here — the 50M butterfly and 100M freestyle.