Maana Patel joins Indian swimmers Srihari Nataraj, Sajan Prakash at Tokyo Olympics

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Maana Patel qualifies for Tokyo Olympics under university quota

Bengaluru: Indian backstroke swimmer Manna Patel will join Srihari Nataraj and Sajan Prakash at the Tokyo Olympics after it was announced she had booked her place in the quadrennial event under the universality quota on Thursday.

Nataraj was also nominated for the universality slot but he achieved the Olympic Qualification Time (OQT) to secure a direct place at Tokyo Olympics. Earlier, Prakash became the first Indian swimmer to achieve the Olympic ‘A’ cut last month. It is also the first time India will have three representations in swimming at the Olympics.

“It’s an amazing feeling. I have heard about the Olympics from fellow swimmers and watched it on the tele and seen a lot of pictures,” Patel was quoted as saying to Olympics.com. “But to be there this time, competing with the best in the world, just gives me goosebumps.”

Patel endured a tough time towards the end of 2019 when she injured her ankle. With the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down everything around the world, it gave Patel the required time to recover without missing any competitions. She returned to international competitions this year.

“It was a tough year to come back after the injury,” Patel admitted. “Though the pandemic and the lockdown was a blessing in disguise as it helped me recuperate well, but then later the frustration crept in. I am not used to staying away from the water for this long.”

Post a two-month training at the national camp in Bengaluru, Patel made her first international appearance at the Uzbekistan Open Swimming Championships in April clocking 1:04.47s for gold in the 100m backstroke.

“I was happy with my timing in Uzbekistan. Nothing great,” Patel said. “But to get back into competitive racing and managing 1:04 was good. I knew I was on the right track.”

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