July 23, 2021 2:00:24 pm
Personal best and season’s best: 1 minute 56.38 seconds (in Rome, June 2021) and national record holder in 200m fly
At Olympics: In 2016 Rio Games, he finished 28th in 200m butterfly
Family: VJ Santymol (mother)
Trivia: First Indian male swimmer to make it to Olympics through A standard. However, this is the second time the Kerala-born swimmer will represent India after Rio Games in 2016.
Sajan Prakash born in Thodupuzha, Kerala has been making headlines for the past five years. The 28-year-old was the toast of the 2015 National Games hosted by Kerala in which he went home with six gold medals and three silver medals. Before the National Games, Sajan made his mark in the national championship and later in the 2018 nationals he established himself, upsetting the top swimmers.
Brought up by single parent V J Shantimol, herself a former athlete who represented India in 1987 Moscow World Junior Meet in 400m, Sajan took initial swimming lessons from the coaches Joy Joseph and Saji Sebastian in Neyveli where his mother was posted in the personal department of the Neyveli Lignite Corporation. After leaving school, he shifted his training base with Dronacharya awardee Pradeep Kumar.
The performances also took Sajan to Phuket in Thailand for specialised training on scholarship from FINA, the world governing body for aquatic sports.
The Covid-19 pandemic sent plans haywire. Pradeep and Sajan got together last year in Dubai where the coach has been based for the past three years.
Rest as they say is history. The duo worked and trained hard while the Swimming Federation of India made arrangements to compete in European meets. In the Rome Sette Colli meet, the last Olympic qualification, Sajan became the first Indian swimmer to make the Olympics ‘A’ cut to automatically qualify for the Olympics, clocking 1:56.38 minutes in 200m butterfly. The Olympic qualifying time (OQT), for the ‘A’ cut was set at 1:56.48s.
He was the only swimmer to represent the country in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games after achieving ‘B’ standard qualification. Sajan, who works as an inspector with Kerala Police, was also the first Indian in over three decades to reach the final of men’s 200m butterfly event at the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games.
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