Srihari Nataraj falls short of Olympic qualifying mark at Uzbekistan championships

The Indian swimmer's timing of 54.07 seconds was enough to secure him the gold medal in the men’s 100m backstroke event at the Uzbekistan Open Swimming Championships on Thursday.

Srihari fell short of meeting the 'A' qualification mark by 0.22 seconds. PHOTO: Sudhakara Jain

Srihari Nataraj came agonisingly close to becoming the first Indian swimmer ever to achieve the A-mark Olympic Qualifying Time, before falling short by 0.22s in men’s 100m backstroke event at the Uzbekistan Open Swimming Championships on Thursday.

The 20-year-old’s timing of 54.07s in the final was enough to secure him the gold medal, but was insufficient to meet the Tokyo 2020 Games A-mark (53.85s).

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Nonetheless, it was a creditable effort by Srihari, who brought down his previous best timing of 54.69s by more half a second. For perspective, his timing in the final, and in the heats earlier on Thursday (54.10), would have both earned Srihari a place in the semifinals of 2016 Rio Olympics and 2019 FINA World Swimming Championships.

On the day, there were also gold medals for Sajan Prakash (400m freestyle, 3:56.03s), Shivani Kataria (400m freestyle, 4:38.05s), Maana Patel (100m backstroke, 1:04.47s) and Chahat Arora (100m breaststroke, 1:16.15s).

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