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Asian Age Group swimming: Swimmers look to take a step closer to Tokyo Olympics

Indian swimmers: (L-R, back row): Aryan Nehra, Likith SP, Srihari Nataraj, Hitten Mittal (L-R, front row): Vidith Shankar, Suvana C Baskar, Nina Venkatesh

Bengaluru, August 2: The 10th AASF Asian Age Group Championships will be held at Bengaluru from September 24 and the event will see participation from top swimmers from India, Japan, China, South Korea, North Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore etc.

The Indian contingent features Olympians Virdhawal Khade, Sajan Prakash and Shivani Kataria, backstroke sensation Srihari Nataraj, sprinter Anshul Kothari, national record holder in breast stroke Likith SP, freestyle specialist Khushagra Rawat in the Open Category while Kenisha Gupta, Kushi Dinesh, Suvana C Baskar, Tanish George Mathew, Sanjay CJ and Riddhima Virendra among others promise to create headlines in the age-group categories.

That success in the event will work as an 'A' Qualification mark for the Tokyo Olympics 2020 has only added to the attraction of the meet.

"This is a very crucial period for the Indian swimmers as some of them are vying for the 'A' Qualification mark for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. At the recent FINA World Championships we had a good participation with six swimmers, four Open Water swimmers and one diver qualifying to take part and some of them even improved the best Indian Performance record. Good show here at the 10th AASF Asian Age Group Championships Bengaluru 2019 will put them in good stead to make the qualification mark for the forthcoming Olympics," said Virendra Nanavati, Vice-President of Indian Olympic Association.

In the previous edition held in Uzbekistan in 2017, India won 40 medals in swimming with 5 gold, 13 silver and 22 bronze while in diving India won 3 gold, two silver and three bronze medals.

"This is the largest Aquatic Championships in Asia as it's not only for open category (18 years and above) like the Asian Games and Asian Championships but will also include participants from Age Groups I (15-17 years) and II (14 years and below).

"The last time India hosted this event was in 1999 and I am sure this Championships coming to India will spur the popularity of the sport with aspiring swimmers getting to watch their icons live in action. Traditionally, Indian swimmers have always done well at this competition and I am confident they will make use of the home advantage this time to surpass the previous edition's medal tally," said Monal Chokshi, Secretary General, Swimming Federation of India.

Srihari Nataraj, national record holder in 50, 100 and 200m backstroke was excited to take part in the event in his home town.

"This is a great opportunity for Indian swimmers. With nearly 45 days to go for the event, I am looking forward to be in my best form in all my events. At the recent FINA World Championships, I had improved my personal best in 50m (25.83), 200m (2:02.08) backstroke slashing my own National Record and I clocked 55.55 in the 100m backstroke.

"Though I could not achieve my goal of securing the A Qualification Mark for 2020 Tokyo Olympics, I believe there are quite a few opportunities coming up and I am confident of achieving the A Qualification mark," he said.

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Story first published: Friday, August 2, 2019, 19:08 [IST]
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