Karnataka's Srihari, Dhinidhi head to Paris through 'Universality quota'

The Swimming Federation of India (SFI) claimed the "universality places" for both genders after no Indian swimmer qualified for the Paris Games or received a FINA invite based on his or her Olympic Selection time (B time).
Last Updated : 26 June 2024, 22:44 IST

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Bengaluru: Dhinidhi Desinghu was still soaking in the news while Srihari Nataraj was experiencing a bittersweet moment. 

This was after FINA confirmed on Wednesday that both swimmers from Karnataka would head to the Paris Olympics via the Universality places qualification system. 

Under this route, a country's swimming body can recommend two of their highest ranked swimmers for the showpiece event when none have achieved the qualification mark in regulation time.

The Swimming Federation of India (SFI), in this case, had recommended Dhinidhi (749 points) and Srihari's (849 points) names - the highest ranked swimmers from India in the men's and women's categories respectively. 

"I'm excited and nervous at the same time," expressed Dhinidhi.

"It's going to be an experience of a lifetime," added the 14-year-old. 

For Srihari, who will be taking part in his second consecutive Olympics, not making the cut by breaching the Olympic Qualification Timing (OQT) is a personal disappointment. But the seasoned swimmer is happy nonetheless to be a double Olympian. 

"I would have hoped to go to Paris by making the qualifying mark. It feels good anyway," offered the 23-year-old. 

While Srihari will compete in the men's 100m backstroke event in which he has a personal best (PB) timing of 53.77 seconds, Dhinidhi will be seen taking part in the women's 200m freestyle event (PB: 02:04.24). Both the swimmers train at the Dolphin Aquatics under coach Nihar Ameen here in the city. 

Dhinidhi is excited to be travelling to Paris with Srihari, whom she considers her idol, and hopes to learn lessons about competing in big-ticket events. 

"Eight years after seeing him as a chief guest, I got to train alongside Srihari. Now I get to go to Paris with him. It's a great feeling to have someone I look up to as my team-mate at the pool in Olympics," shared Dhinidhi.  

Published 26 June 2024, 08:10 IST

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