The news of his selection by Swimming Federation of India (SFI) to represent India in Rio Olympics 2016 came by as a great surprise for Sajan Prakash as he was travelling back from the show at Hong Kong. He became the first Indian to go under the two-minute mark (1:59.27) in the 200M butterfly race.
“I was at the airport when one of my friends texted me saying they had announced my name at the opening ceremony of the Junior Nationals. I was shocked. I didn't know if it was true or if he was congratulating me for achieving the qualifying time.” He added, “now I feel I should do a good time in Rio and at least enter the semifinals. For that, I need to swim at least 1:57.”
Here’s what the star swimmer had to say about his achievement.
On making the Olympic grade:
It was my childhood dream. For the last one-and-ahalf years, I'd been trying to qualify for Rio. First I qualified for the Worlds and then I managed to achieve the `B' mark in three events. All five of us who had achieved the `B' standard were competing; we didn't know who would go.
On his fellow Indian swimmers:
I feel that it's hard luck for them (Sandeep Sejwal, Saurabh Sangvekar, Virdhawal Khade, Supriyo Mondal). They tried like real champions; they didn't give up at any point and tried till the last moment. I'll swim for them at the Rio Olympics.
Battling through a shoulder injury:
Right before the South Asian Games in January, I had a small tear in my shoulder. I underwent treatment and still managed decent timings at the SAG and the Thailand Open.
I was only focusing on 200m butterfly because I couldn't swim freestyle due to my shoulder injury. In freestyle, you have to lift your elbow, which I couldn't.
Training regime in the run-up to Rio:
I put myself into my training program fully. I don't go out, I don't eat junk food or dessert. The other swimmers went out. Phuket is a great destination for holiday makers. But I knew it was an important time. If I spent time outside, I knew I might have to wait four more years for the next Olympics.
On the disappointment of not making the `A' mark:
If you look at other countries, they treat their athletes like their own kids and work on them. In our country , it's very tough. The government should support us. When I was asking for financial assistance, the NSDF (National Sports Development Fund) cleared Rs 2.5 lakh. It was good for the competitions, but what about the training?
If I want to buy supplements, I need to buy them on my own.
Source: Times of India