National swimming coach Pradeep S. Kumar on Sunday said India will be aiming to finish on top of the medals tally in the 10th Asian Age Group Championships to begin here on Tuesday.
Pradeep expressed confidence that his swimmers will out-perform their previous tally of five gold, 13 silver and 22 bronze medals in this edition of the event.
“This is the first time that many of them will be swimming at such a major International competition at home and the mood in the team is upbeat. All the swimmers are high in spirits and are well-prepared to improve the total medals tally from the previous edition,” he said.
“There is no doubt that we will be aiming to finish on top of the medals tally,” stated the Dronacharya awardee.
With countries such as Japan, Chinese Taipei, Kazakstan and Thailand sending their full-strength squads, it won’t be an easy task for the hosts and the coach is fully aware of that.
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“This will be a challenging meet with contingents from Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Japan and Kazakstan bringing their full squad consisting their country’s best swimmers. Countries like Jordan and Syria also will have participants to watch out for. Competition particularly in Group 1 boys and Group 2 girls will be tough but our swimmers have made good progress,” Pradeep said.
The nine-day tournament, which is a Qualifying event for 2020 Tokyo Olympics, will also witness participation of countries such as Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Kyrgyz Republic, Maldives, Nepal, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, UAE, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Bangladesh and Syria.
Speaking about ace Indian swimmers Sajan Prakash and Srihari Nataraj, who have secured B Qualification time for Tokyo Olympics, and Virdhawal Khade, who is riding on a good show at the recent Senior Nationals in Bhopal, Pradeep said, “These boys have good chances of making the ‘A’ cut.
“They are in good shape after the Senior Nationals and I am expecting them to better the timings they clocked in Bhopal.”
The Championships will be held across four disciplines which is swimming, diving water polo and synchronised swimming.
The event will have participants in open category (18 years and above), as well as Age Groups I (15-17 years) and II (14 years and below).
In the previous edition, India won a total of 40 medals in swimming with five gold, 13 silver and 22 bronze while in diving, India won 3 gold, two silver and three bronze.