Teenage swimmer Srihari Nataraj clocked 54.10 seconds in the men’s 100 metres backstroke preliminary round of the Uzbekistan Open Summer Swimming Championships in Tashkent on Thursday to inch closer to Olympic ‘A’ qualification time of 53.85 seconds. The 19-year-old Nataraj, who hails from Bengaluru, has a personal best of 54.69 seconds, which is ‘B’ qualification mark clocked in the 2019 World Junior Championships held in Budapest. The final will be held later in the evening. If he cracks the Olympic ‘A’ qualification mark in the men’s 100 metres backstroke he will become the first Indian swimmer to achieve the feat.
Six Indians swimmers, including Sajan Prakash, had achieved Olympic ‘B’ qualification time in the 2019. The ‘B’ qualification time doesn’t guarantee an automatic berth for the Olympics.
The 2020 season was disrupted by the Covid pandemic and as swimming competitions resumed this year, all the six swimmers are chasing ‘A’ cut time in their respective events.