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Swimmer Rawat targets 800m Olympic qualification time

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By Navneet Singh

New Delhi, April 2 (IANS) International freestyle swimmer Kushagra Rawat aims to crack the Tokyo Olympic Games ‘A’ qualification time in the 800 metres event at next week’s Mission Nadadores competition in America.

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Rawat is the first Indian to have achieved ‘B’ Olympic standard time in three freestyle events — 400m, 800m, and 1,500m.

Last month, the 21-year-old Delhi swimmer had gone to Santa Monica, California, to train with David Kelsheimer, who was assistant coach of the 2016 USA Olympic squad, to fulfil his dreams to compete in Olympic Games starting on July 23.

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Rawat’s second competition will be in May.

While Rawat was unavailable, his father, Hukam Singh Rawat, said that although his son has achieved ‘B’ qualification in three events, his focus would be on the 800m race. “Since training has gone on expected lines in the last three months, we expect good results in the season’s first competition next week,” Hukum Singh told IANS.

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The Delhi swimmer has a personal best of 3 minutes 52.75 seconds in the 400m while he clocked 8 minutes 01.71 seconds for the 800m. In 1500m, his best time is 15 minutes 25.22 seconds. All these timings are better than the Olympic ‘B’ qualification standard.

The ‘A’ qualification time in 800m is 7 minutes 54.31 seconds. “He is close to the ‘A’ qualification time. We hope he will be successful in achieving the time next weekend,” said Hukum Singh.

Advait Page, who has also achieved Olympic ‘B’ standard time in 800m, trains in the USA. He holds the national record of 8 minutes 0.75 seconds.

In the 2019 Olympic qualification cycle, six male swimmers had achieved ‘B’ qualification marks, including 18-year-old Srihari Natraj from Bengaluru. The ‘B’ qualification time doesn’t guarantee entry for the Olympics whereas ‘A’ qualification is an automatic berth.

Sajan Prakash, Aryan Makhija, and Vidhawal Khade are the other Indians who have achieved ‘B’ qualification time.

–IANS

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