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Swimmer Nataraj's personal best, gold not enough for Olympics

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New Delhi, April 15 (IANS) Swimmer Srihari Nataraj clocked a personal best of 54.07 seconds to win gold in the men’s 100 metres backstroke in the Uzbekistan Open Summer Swimming Championships in Tashkent on Thursday. However, his performance was slower than the Olympic ‘A’ qualification time of 53.85 seconds.

Earlier, in the preliminary round of the men’s 100m, the 19-year-old Nataraj had clocked 54.10 seconds.

Though he bettered his performance in the final, it wasn’t good enough for the Olympic ‘A’ qualification mark.

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Bengaluru-based Nataraj’s previous best was 54.69 seconds, which he clocked in 2019 World Junior Championships held in Budapest. It was the Olympic ‘B’ qualification mark.

Sajan Prakash won gold in the men’s 400m freestyle event, his third in the tournament. He had also won gold in 200m freestyle and 200m butterfly.

Likith SP, another promising swimmer from Bengaluru finished second in men’s 100m breaststroke while S Danush won bronze.

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Six Indians swimmers, including Prakash, had achieved Olympic ‘B’ qualification time in the 2019. The ‘B’ qualification time doesn’t guarantee an automatic berth for the Olympics.

The 2020 season was disrupted by the pandemic and after swimming competitions resumed this year, all the six swimmers began chasing the ‘A’ qualification time in their respective events.

—IANS

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