Sajan Prakash creates history, becomes first Indian swimmer to qualify for Olympics with A cut

Sajan Prakash dipped below the qualifying mark in the 200m butterfly at the Sette Colli Trophy in Rome to set a new national record.

By Naveen Peter
Picture by Swimming Federation of India

Indian swimmer Sajan Prakash has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in the 200m butterfly event.

The 27-year-old will head for his second Summer Games at Tokyo 2020 after becoming the first Indian ever to achieve the Olympic Qualification Time (OQT).

Competing at the 2021 Sette Colli Trophy in Rome, Italy, Sajan Prakash broke the Indian jinx with a fine swim that saw him touch the board in 1:56.38 -- a new national record -- and dip below the OQT set at 1:56.48.

“This is massive for Indian swimming. We are very proud of Sajan’s achievement and wish him the best at the Tokyo Games,” Monal Chokshi, secretary general of the Swimming Federation of India told Olympics.com.

Though India has fielded at least one swimmer at every Summer Games since Sydney 2000, the participation has been under the universality quota. Sajan Prakash has previously competed at Rio 2016.

The ‘universality’ quota lets a country send one male and one female swimmer to the Olympics -- provided there are slots available -- when they don’t have anyone eligible to qualify. The quota is not applicable should a swimmer from the same country make the A cut.

Earlier, India had nominated Srihari Nataraj and Maana Patel under the ‘universality’ quota. However, Srihari Nataraj is no longer eligible since Sajan made the A cut.

Kenisha Gupta, Kushagra Rawat set national marks

In Rome, Indians continued their rich vein of form as Kenisha Gupta too managed to lower the national record in the women’s 100m freestyle.

The Mumbai-based swimmer clocked 57.32 seconds to win her heat, but her timing could only fetch a 22nd spot on the overall standings.

Meanwhile, at the 2021 Dolfin Fran Crippen Memorial Swim Meet of Champions in California, USA, Indian swimmer Kushagra Rawat clinched the gold medal in the 400m freestyle race.

Making the final as the fastest qualifier, the 21-year-old was in his element as he clocked 3:54.22 for the top prize.

Having already achieved the Olympic Selection Time (OST) in the event, Kushagra Rawat was looking for the OQT but fell short of his target. The Olympic cut for the 400m freestyle is set at 3:46.78.

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