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Maana Patel Overcame Ankle Injury And Become India’s First Woman Swimmer To Qualify For Olympics

Maana Patel, Who is Maana Patel
Who is Maana Patel: 21-year-old Maana Patel is the first woman and only the third swimmer from India to have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to be held from July 23 to August 8 this year in Japan. Maana Patel, who will take part in the 100m backstroke at the Games, has qualified after both Srihari Nataraj and Sajan Prakash achieved Olympic Qualification Timing (OQT) ‘A’ level recently.

Patel qualified for Tokyo 2021 through the Universality quota, confirmed Sports Authority of India (SAI) on Friday. The quota allows one male and one female competitor from a country to participate in the Olympics, provided no other swimmer from the same gender qualifies for the Games or receives a FINA invite based on his or her Olympic Selection time (B time).

“It’s an amazing feeling. I have heard about the Olympics from fellow swimmers and watched it on the television and seen a lot of pictures,” Ahmedabad-based Patel told Olympics.com, adding that just to think about competing with the best in the world gives me goosebumps. More here.

Who is Maana Patel, swimming her way to the Tokyo Olympics 2021?

A decorated athlete, Patel has won gold medals in 50 backstroke and 200 metre backstroke and also at the National Games. She had also clinched gold in 100 metre backstroke at the 60th National School Games in 2015, breaking the national record in the event. The same year, she was selected for the Olympic Gold Quest, marking the first time a swimmer was roped in. Three years later, Patel secured three gold medals at 72nd Senior National Aquatic Championships in 2018. At the Senior Nationals in Thiruvananthapuram in 2018, she clinched all three backstroke events. She had sustained an ankle injury in 2019 and only made a comeback earlier this year.

Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju took to Twitter and congratulated the backstroke swimmer on her qualification.

Patel admitted that it was a tough year to come back after the injury but the pandemic and COVID-19-induced lockdown was a “blessing in disguise” as it helped her recuperate well. She also went on to say that later the frustration crept in. “I am not used to staying away from the water for this long,” she stated.

The 21-year-old competed in Uzbekistan Open Swimming Championships in April, her first event of the year, where she clocked 1:04.47 seconds for the gold medal in the 100m backstroke. She had recently taken part in events in Serbia and Italy to warm up for the Tokyo Games. She went on to better her national mark in the 100m backstroke at the Belgrave event. “According to Patel, the one thing that she ensured was that she made the most of every opportunity. “I had my schedule organised. My intake was controlled. I didn’t want to leave anything to chance,” the young swimmer noted.

Further talking about the future after Tokyo, she said that she is not looking for much, just the experience of swimming at the Olympics. The young swimmer has her eyes on year 2023 already. “I see the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games as a real opportunity for a podium finish,” said Patel.