Indian swimmer Maana Patel’s participation in the Tokyo Olympics has been confirmed through a “universality quota”, India’s swimming (SFI) announced.
Maana will compete in the 100m backstroke at the Tokyo Games and is the third Indian swimmer to qualify after both Srihari Nataraj and Sajan Prakash recently reached Olympic Qualification (OQT) level “A”.
The universal quota allows one man and one athlete from a country to participate in the Olympic Games, provided that no other same-sex swimmer qualifies for the Games or receives an invitation from FINA based on his Olympic selection time (time B). .
“It’s an amazing feeling. I’ve heard about the Olympics from fellow swimmers, I’ve watched it on TV and I’ve seen a lot of pictures,” Maana told Olympics.com.
“But to be there this time, to compete with the best in the world, just makes me shiver.”
The 21-year-old suffered an ankle injury in 2019 and returned only earlier this year. “It was a difficult year to come back after the injury,” Maana admitted.
“Although the pandemic and the blockade were a disguised blessing as they helped me recover well, but later the disappointment crept in. I’m not used to staying away from the water for so long.”
Her first event of the year was the Open Swimming Championships in Uzbekistan in April, where she reached 1: 04.47 seconds for the gold medal in the 100-meter backstroke.
“I was happy with my time in Uzbekistan. Nothing great. But to go back to racing and run 1:04 was good. I knew I was on the right track.”
She recently took part in events in Serbia and Italy as a tune for the Tokyo Games. At the event in Belgrade, she improved her national mark in the 100m backstroke.
“One thing I secured was that I wanted to make the most of every opportunity. I organized my schedule. My admission was controlled. I didn’t want to leave anything to chance,” Maana said.
“I went 1:03 in Belgrade, the goal is to go 1:02 or lower in Tokyo.”
With the universality quota, which is not even a qualifying grade of ‘B’, Maana knows that the Olympics are more of an experience for her. “I’m not looking for much here, just the swimming experience at the Olympics. The 2023 season is an important year for us. I see the British Community and the Asian Games as a real opportunity to finish on the podium,” said Maana.