Sajan Prakash 1st Indian swimmer to make Olympics A cut

Sajan Prakash creates history, becomes first-ever Indian swimmer to make Olympics 'A' cut

The 27-year-old made the Tokyo Games 'A' standard, set at 1:56.48 seconds, by 0.1 seconds

India's Sajan Prakash. Credit: DH Photo

Sajan Prakash became the first swimmer from the country to breach the Olympic Qualification Time (A cut) in swimming as he capped the qualification period with an outstanding performance in the Sette Colli Trophy in Rome, Italy on Saturday.

No Indian swimmer had ever made the A cut before and Prakash, who represented the country in Rio five years ago, clocked 1:56.38 in 200m butterfly - his pet event - to breach the A cut time of 1:56.48. The 27-year-old's previous best was 1:56.96, which he achieved in Belgrade a week ago. 

The Kerala swimmer had earlier made the B qualification time in both 100m and 200m butterfly event and was in good form coming into the final.

"It's a real achievement for the boy," said Pradeep Kumar, Prakash's coach. "It's not a small one, it's a dream for people in India (to make the 'A' cut). For Sajan to do two Olympics as well, is great. I feel so glad and happy. This is really good for Indian swimming. It creates the belief in other simmers that they can do this too, that is the major take away from this. 

"The first 100 was a bit faster that we expected, but last 50 went slower. That's what we thought but he made the time."

"This is a fantastic, historic day for Indian swimming," said SFI secretary Monal Chokshi. "I'm at a loss for words on Sajan's performance. The glass ceiling has been broken and this will inspire the next generation."

What this means is that Olympic qualification through Universality places is no longer valid. Swimming Federation of India's nomination had nominated Srihari Nataraj, who agonisingly missed out on the A qualification mark in 100m backstroke by 0.05 seconds on Friday, for the Universality quota.

"It's was a big pressure and motivation as well. These guys (Prakash and Nataraj) were complimenting each other and they were very friendly. I feel Srihari also should have got it, I feel FINA should invite him also. He deserves it too," said Pradeep.

Prakash will take part in the Tokyo Games alongside Maana Patel, who has been nominated via Universality quota by the SFI.

Earlier in the day, Kenisha Gupta set the best Indian performance in the 100m freestyle event with a time of 57.35s.

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