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India’s bronze edge in China

Swimmer Virdhawal Khade's career graph has been on the upswing right from the time he became the youngest Indian swimmer to qualify for the Olympics — Beijing 2008. Ajai Masand reports.

india Updated: Nov 17, 2010 01:44 IST
Ajai Masand

Swimmer Virdhawal Khade's career graph has been on the upswing right from the time he became the youngest Indian swimmer to qualify for the Olympics — Beijing 2008. Two years since he is in proud possession of a medal, which has evaded India since the time a certain Khazan Singh Tokas bagged silver at the 1986 Asian Games in Seoul.

On Tuesday at the Aoti Aquatic Centre, the 19-year-old broke a 24-year-old jinx, clinching bronze in 50m butterfly with a time of 24.31, even though he started off in fifth place.

“I started off badly, making many mistakes in the beginning. And after that, I had to really work hard. Though I know I have earned India a medal in the pool after a gap of 24 years, I will not lose momentum and work even harder in my next race,” said the swimmer from Kolhapur. Khade will be back again on Wednesday for

his favourite event, 100m freestyle. Those following Khade’s career would know how far this young boy has come from the time he set a national record in 100m freestyle at the Beijing Games on way to winning a heat. It’s another thing that he failed to qualify for the semifinals.

“I am over the moon,” said an ecstatic Khade. “Yesterday's result gave me great confidence and I knew I could take my performances to the next level and win a medal for India.” The champion swimmer had finished on top in the third heat on Monday with a time of 24.56. On Tuesday, he bettered the mark by .25 seconds and brought up the season's second-best performance. Khade, finished just 0.65 seconds shy of top-placed 27-year-old Zhou Jiawei --- the top ranked Chinese who is also the Asian record holder --- and 0.18 seconds short of 25-year-old Japanese national record holder, Kishida Masayuki. Lauding the youngster's effort, Khazan Singh said, “His performance was excellent. He has been improving rapidly and I had always hoped he would go on to win medals for our country. Today he has done it.”

On his event on Wednesday, Khade said, “I am looking forward to tomorrow and I am confident of another medal.”

In the ring, pocket-sized Suranjoy Singh punched his way into the pre-quarterfinals with an easy win over Thailand's Chatchai Butdee in the 52kg flyweight category.

The Manipur pugilist, whose showing has been nothing but stupendous in the last year has won an astonishing seven, defeated his Thai opponent 7-2 at the Foshan Gymnasium.

The effect of competing non-stop - with the last one being the Commonwealth Games where he won the title - doesn't seem to have taken a toll on the boxer as he was his usual sharp self, attacking and counter-attacking with ease.

On Wednesday, Olympic bronze-medallist Vijender Singh (75kg) will take on Yu Ting Yang of Chinese Taipei, trying to improve upon his bronze medal-winning performance in Doha, while World Youth champion Vikas Krishan will lock horns with Thailand's Saylom Ardee in the 60kg category.