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Nataraj looks to crack Olympic qualification mark

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New Delhi, April 9 (IANS) Bengaluru’s teenage swimmer Srihari Nataraj will aim to crack ‘A’ qualification mark for Olympics in the men’s 100 metres backstroke event when he splashes the pool in the Uzbekistan Open Summer Swimming Championships starting on April 12.

The 19-year-old is among the 15-member national squad that will compete in the week-long competition in Tashkent.

His target is ‘A’ qualification time of 53.85 seconds, which will give him an automatic berth for Tokyo Olympics starting on July 23. Nataraj has a personal best of 54.69 seconds, which is ‘B’ qualification mark for the 100m backstroke.

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The ‘B’ qualification time doesn’t guarantee automatic berth for the Olympics.

Focus will also be on Sajan Prakash, who will compete in the 200m butterfly event. Prakash is training in Dubai and will fly directly to Tashkent. He is also chasing the ‘A’ qualification time of 1 minute 56.48 seconds in his event.

Prakash has Olympic ‘B’ qualification time under his belt, having clocked 1 minute 58.03 seconds in 2019 in Malaysia. In February, he had clocked 1 minute 59.31 seconds in Latvia.

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The national team didn’t have a good build-up to the season’s first international competition as they couldn’t train since Monday in Bengaluru.

Last weekend, the Karnataka government had closed the pools due to spike in coronavirus cases in the state.

—IANS

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