Srihari Nataraj (TOI Photo)
NEW DELHI: A second lockdown imposed by the Karnataka government to contain the spread of coronavirus has prevented Srihari Nataraj, Indian national record holder in men’s 100 metres backstroke, from training in the pool for a week.
“I’ve not trained in the pool for almost a week. The state government hasn’t given permission to open swimming pools, even for the elite swimmers. Without training in an Olympic size 50 metres pool it is not possible to perform well in competitions,” Nataraj told IANS from Bengaluru.
Last month Nataraj, 20, broke the national 100m backstroke record twice during the Uzbekistan Open Swimming Championships in Tashkent. But his national record of 54.07 seconds fell short of Olympic A qualification time of 53.85 seconds.
Natraj is among six Indian swimmers who have achieved Olympic B qualification marks in their respective events for the Tokyo Olympic Games. As per rules, only A qualification guarantees automatic berth.
Despite assurance from the state sports minister, there is no information regarding reopening of swimming facilities in the state, said a swimming coach.
“Despite the fact the deadline to achieve A qualification time for swimmers to compete at the Olympics is June 27, elite Indian swimmers are struggling to practice. With no support from the local government it has become impossible to practice on a regular basis,” pointed out the coach.
The Olympics are scheduled to start on July 23.