Rome: Malayali swimmer Sajan Prakash became the first-ever Indian swimmer to qualify for the Olympics by breaching an Olympic 'A' standard time in men's 200-meter butterfly event here on Saturday. In the event, Sette Colli Trophy, 27-year-old Sajan clocked 1:56:38 seconds while the 'A' standard was set at 1:56:48, meaning he was 0.10 second faster than FINA accredited Olympic qualifier.
"Historic moment in Indian Swimming!!! Sajan Prakash breaks the glass ceiling clocks 1:56.38, an Olympic qualification time. Congratulations," the Swimming Federation of India tweeted. Sajan, an inspector in Special Armed Forces of Kerala Police since 2019, received praise from Kerala Police, among many, on Twitter.
Sajan had a national record of 1:56:96 seconds, which he had set last week, but he surpassed that mark this time. This Olympics will be his second consecutive one after he had represented India in the 2016 Rio Olympics. He will be competing along with Mana Patel, who has been nominated by the Swimming Federation of India for the Universality places.
Sajan has always been optimistic about breaching the 'A' time. "This is not my peak yet when I peak after some skill sharpening, after that, I think it (A mark) will happen. I have to be patient for that," he told PTI in April when he clocked 1.57.85s in the Uzbekistan Open Championship.
As Prakash has qualified directly, Srihari Nataraj will not be competing under Universality places since he missed the 'A' time in 100m backstrokes. If no swimmer is qualified in any gender or receives a FINA invite based on their Olympic Selection time, the Universality quota allows one from each gender from a country to participate in the Olympics.