Asian Games: Sajan, Srihari break national records

Kerala’s Sajan Prakash and Karnataka’s very promising Srihari Nataraj broke national records in the men’s 200m butterfly and 100m backstroke but failed to finish among the medals.

Sajan, who was the third fastest swimmer in the heats, had a bad start and the turns were not executed cleanly.   -  Manob Chowdhury

He is known to create a flutter wherever he goes. Sun Yang once slammed a friend’s Porsche into a bus and was jailed since he did not have a license. The Chinese Olympic champion earns big money and has a party boy image.

Still, when it came to the pool, there was none to match him. Sun, who is eying a four-gold freestyle sweep at the 18th Asian Games collected his first with a comfortable 200m freestyle triumph at the GBK Aquatic Centre on Sunday evening.

Meanwhile, Kerala’s Sajan Prakash and Karnataka’s very promising Srihari Nataraj broke national records in the men’s 200m butterfly and 100m backstroke but failed to finish among the medals.

Everything worked in Sun’s favour from start to finish but there quite a scene shortly after the medals were presented.

As the Chinese national anthem was played and as the flags were raised, suddenly the metal frame that held them fell off the mast and to the ground. The ceremony was gone through all over again.

Meanwhile Sajan, who was the third fastest swimmer in the heats, had a bad start and the turns were not executed cleanly.

Still, the Kerala swimmer bettered his own national record, from 1:58.08 to 1:57.75s, as he finished fifth. Winning the gold in 1:54.53 was Japan’s Seto Daiya who had won the 400m individual medley bronze at the last Olympics.

“I was expecting 1:56 but I messed it up in the third 50. I think I began to choke,” said the 25-year-old Sajan.

“Sajan is normally a great starter but today, if you notice, even at the start he was back. And he messed up all the three turns,” said national coach Pradeep Kumar.

While Sajan gave his all in the final, the 17-year-old Srihari – probably the country’s most exciting talent – regained the national record he had recently surrendered to Arvind Mani after clocking 55.86s (old national record 56.38) in the heats but could not match the effort in the final where he finished seventh in 56.19.

Srihari and Mani came up with a one-two in the morning’s heats – a rare thing at this level – but the latter was far below his personal best and could manage just 58.09.

Earlier, Japan’s Suzuki Satomi shattered the Games record in the women’s 100m breaststroke clocking 1:06.40s (old 1:06.67) while China’s Xu Jiayu equalled the Games record clocking 52.34s in the men’s 100m backstroke.