On Tuesday night, a three-member Indian swimming team, comprising Srihari Nataraj, will depart for Serbia to compete in the Belgrade Trophy, a FINA-accredited Olympic qualifying event. The event is set to take place on June 19 and 20. Sajan Prakash is now training in Dubai and is scheduled to arrive in Belgrade on June 12.
Apart from Olympic ‘B’ qualifying mark scorers Nataraj and Prakash, who are aiming for A qualification, the squad also includes seasoned back stroker Maana Patel, who just returned to form in an international event in Uzbekistan.
Aryan Nehra, Shoan Ganguli, Tanish Mathew, and Kenisha Gupta are among the TOPS (Target Olympic Podium Scheme) athletes who have shown significant promise.
The squad, except Nehra and Ganguli (who did not make the qualification times), will fly to Rome on June 23 to compete in the annual Sette Colli Trophy, a FINA-accredited Olympic Qualifying event, which will be contested on June 25, 26, and 27.
Nihar Ameen and Pradeep Kumar, two experienced instructors, will accompany them. The Indian swimmers competed at the Uzbekistan Open in April of this year, their first international event since the COVID-19 lockdown in March of last year.
Monal Chokshi, SFI secretary general, emphasized that the competitions in Belgrade and Rome would not only give a fantastic chance for Olympic aspirants to qualify, but would also give significant exposure for swimmers training for the upcoming Asian Games in 2022.
SFI president RN Jayaprakash thanked the Sports Ministry, the External Affairs Ministry, and the Sports Authority of India for approving this tour.