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Sajan Prakash became the first-ever Indian swimmer to qualify for the Olympic Games by breaching the 'A' standard time. He clocked 1:56:38 seconds in the men's 200m butterfly event at the Sette Colli Trophy in Rome, Italy. The 27-year-old swimmer from Kerala completed the run 0.10 seconds faster than the Games 'A' standard set at 1:56:48 seconds.
Prakash also broke his own national record of 1:56:96 seconds which he had set last week at the Belgrade Trophy swimming competition, reported NDTV. His latest record-breaking run at the FINA-accredited Olympic qualifier will see him contesting in the second successive Olympics after representing India at the Rio Games in 2016. Besides Prakash, Maana Patel will take part in the Tokyo Games. She has been nominated by the Swimming Federation of India for the Universality places.
Swimming Federation of India had nominated Srihari Nataraj and Maana Patel for the Universality Places for one man and one woman, respectively, based on the highest FINA points. The Universality quota allows one male and one female competitor from a country to participate in the Games, as long as no other swimmer from the same gender qualifies for the Games or receives a FINA invite based on their Olympic Selection time (B time). So, Sajan Prakash's direct qualification means Srihari Nataraj will not be competing in the Tokyo Games. Nataraj missed out on the 'A' standard in the 100m men's backstroke by mere 0.5 seconds in Rome on Friday.
In April, when Sajan Prakash clocked 1.57.85s in the Uzbekistan Open Championship, he said it was not his best run and needed skill sharpening and patience before breaching the elusive 'A' mark. Last week, he improved his time at the Belgrade Trophy swimming competition, clocking 1:56:96 seconds before finally breaching the 'A' standard time in Rome on Saturday. TOPS developmental swimmer Kenisha Gupta also created a national record, clocking 57.35 seconds in the 100m freestyle event in Rome.
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