July 23, 2021 1:00:45 pm
Personal best and season’s best: Three national records in 50m, 100m, & 200m backstroke
At Olympics: Debutant
Early this January swimmer Srihari Nataraj’s father Nataraj Venkataraman passed away. Instead of grieving, the 20-year-old from Bengaluru went on to book the tickets for Tokyo by achieving the ‘A’ standard although in a time trial in Rome last month and realised his dream of making it to the Olympic Games.
The Olympics is not his first big stage either. Srihari has indeed competed in World championships (Korea), Commonwealth Games (Gold Coast), Asian Games (Jakarta), Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games and was termed as the poster boy of India swimming for his exploits. In 2018 alone, the lad broke national records at least dozen times in nationals, Asiad and CWG. In the 2019 Kathmandu South Asian Games, Srihari swept all four gold medals on offer including one in relay.
Kalyani, Srihari’s mother, was a volleyball player from Pudukottai in Tamil Nadu who represented her state in junior nationals and played for Madurai University in the All-India Inter-University Championships while his elder brother Balaji, 26, an engineer in Singapore too was a national-level swimmer.
“Srihari calls me from Games Village every day and he is feeling good. He is working hard and promised to make records and do his level best,” Kalyani told indianexpress.com. Nataraj, his father, was a pillar of support physically, mentally and financially for Srihari, she added.
Come Sunday, Srihari is expected to make waves at Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center.
After the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the young lad was forced to change his long-time coach AC Jayarajan and is being trained by Dronacharya awardee Nihar Ameen currently.
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