Swimmer Srihari Nataraj, who holds the national record in 50m backstroke, 100m backstroke, and 200m backstroke, on Saturday (December 21) said that his immediate aim is to book a berth in the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“I am currently looking to book a berth in the Tokyo Olympics and make the semi-finals at least. And subsequently, I would look to win a medal in Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and the Olympics in 2024,” said Nataraj.
In fact, India’s performance in the 13th South Asian Games, especially in sports like swimming, wushu, and cycling made Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju believe that they could be a medal prospect in next year’s world event.
The 18-year-old Nataraj said his biggest goal is to win a medal at the 2024 Olympics.
He also felt the Khelo India Youth Games is a good initiative to spot talent. Nataraj has participated in the first two editions of the competition and is currently preparing for the third edition, which will be held in Guwahati from January 10 to 22.
“The Khelo India Games is a really good initiative taken by the government. It’s given a chance to all the athletes to take part in one more event. And the tournament gets a lot of media attention, so the athletes get a lot of media publicity. The Khelo India Games is a confidence booster for me. It’s a good initiative to spot talent,” said Nataraj.
The swimmer, who started at the age of two, won six golds and one silver in the first edition of the Khelo India Games and seven golds in the second edition. He participated in the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games last year.
“I started swimming at the age of two. My mother took me to the swimming pool where my elder brother used to swim. That’s how I started swimming. I took part in my first international tournament at the age of 14.
“It feels good to be one of the top swimmers in the country. It’s something that I have been working for. I don’t really think about it a lot, but it’s something that I am happy about,” said Nataraj.
(With inputs from agencies)