Tokyo Olympics: Indian sailors profile, ranking, opponents, form guide

Here are the profiles and form guides of the Indian sailors in action at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Nethra Kumanan - Laser Radial 

Ranking: 54

Form guide 2021: Finished 14th at Lanzarote Winter Series Act 1 in Spain (January); Finished second at the Mussanah Open Championship 2021- Asian and African OG Qualifier (April); 41st at the Allianz Regatta, Hempel World Cup Series Medemblik in the Netherlands (June).

Top medal contenders: Emma Plasschaert (Belgium), Marit Bouwmeester (Netherlands), Maud Jayet (Switzerland), Agata Barwinska (Poland), Josefin Olsson (Sweden).

Nethra Kumanan is the first Indian woman sailor in history to qualify for the Olympic Games. The 23-year-old punched her ticket to Tokyo in April when she finished first in the laser radial class at the Mussanah Open Championships, which was an Asian qualifier event, in Oman.

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The Chennai native trains with Hungarian coach Tamas Eszes, who is a two-time Olympian in the laser standard class, at the Gran Canaria in Spain. She quit school in Grade XI to pursue the sport professionally. She has represented India at the 2014 and 2018 Asian Games. She took a break from the sport after failing to qualify for the Rio Olympics but has since bounced back and made history by sealing her berth at the Tokyo Games. 

Vishnu Saravanan - Laser Standard

Ranking: 43

Form guide 2021: Finished second at the Mussanah Open Championship 2021- Asian and African OG Qualifier (April); 26th at the Allianz Regatta, Hempel World Cup Series Medemblik in the Netherlands (June).

Top medal contenders: Charlie Buckingham (USA), Juan Ignacio Maegli Aguero (Guatemala), Stefano Peschiera (Peru), Hermann Tomasgaard (Norway), Wannes Van Laer (Belgium).

Vishnu Saravanan booked his ticket to Tokyo in fine fashion by winning the laser standard event at the Mussanah Open Championships in April. The Armyman was placed third going into the final day and battled the odds to finish first in the final medal race and second overall to earn an Olympic quota. He was introduced to the sport by his Armyman father Ramachandran Saravanan, an avid sailor himself who could not pursue the sport professionally. Vishnu became the youth national champion in 2016 and subsequently joined the Indian Army as a Naib Subedar in 2017. 

The 23-year-old won the bronze medal at the 2019 Laser Under-21 World Championships in Croatia, a year after he bagged the silver medal at the Laser Europa Cup in Italy.  He trains under Moldovian Alexandr Denisiuc at the SailCoach Academy in Malta.

Varun Thakkar and KC Ganapathy moved from 29er boats to 49er boats in 2014 and will be competing in their first Olympics.

 

KC Ganapathy - Men’s 49er

Ranking: 73

Form guide 2021: Finished first at the Mussanah Open Championship 2021- Asian and African OG Qualifier (April).

Top medal contenders: Bart Lambriex (Netherlands), Jonas Warrer (Denmark), Benjamin Bildstein (Austria), Erwan Fischer (France), Jakob Meggendorfer (Germany).

He’s only 25 years of age but KC Ganapathy already has a wealth of experience under his belt. He competed in the 2010 Asian Games in the Optimist event and then joined forces with Varun Thakkar in 2011. The duo moved from 29er boats to 49er boats in 2014. The duo achieved their first taste of international success when they won bronze at the 2018 Asian Games. 

The Ganapathy-Varun duo then finished second at the 49er & 49erFX Asian Championships in Abu Dhabi in 2019 before pocketing their maiden Olympic berth at the Mussanah Open earlier this year.

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“We complement each other and are good partners. On the 49er skiff, the crew holds the main sail and one on the steering. That’s where we help each other, me from the steering end and Varun from the help end. There has to be a lot of coordination. Varun’s help is really crucial in getting the boat really fast. We both like going really fast. Our disagreements, when we do have, only make us improve,” he had said during an earlier interaction

Varun Thakkar - Men’s 49er

Ranking: N/A

Form guide 2021: Finished first at the Mussanah Open Championship 2021- Asian and African OG Qualifier (April).

Top medal contenders: Bart Lambriex (Netherlands), Jonas Warrer (Denmark), Benjamin Bildstein (Austria), Erwan Fischer (France), Jakob Meggendorfer (Germany)

Varun and Ganapathy were actually competitors during their junior days. Both of them cut their teeth at the sea in Chennai Port and were fierce rivals. But the boys decided to join forces in 2011, and the rest is history. Varun, also aged 23, dropped out of school early on to make a career out of sailing just like Ganapathy did.

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The two of them had their share of differences initially but were able to put them behind. “We have a process and we believe in the process. We have been sailing (together) for 10 years now. During the first three years after our team formed, we had our arguments but then we made a long term goal to bring a medal for the country. We believed in each other more than anything else. Currently, we are only each other’s backbone,” Varun had said.

The duo has been training in Portugal in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics.

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