The first thing Prasanta Karmakar did after qualifying for the final of the S-9 50m freestyle category on Wednesday was to arrange four tickets for his parents and grandparents, who had travelled from Kolkata to watch him bring glory to the country.
The team officials arranged two tickets and his friends from Haryana the rest. Karmakar didn't let his family down. Rather, the swimmer, who lost his right arm in a road accident, made the country proud by clinching a bronze.
He became the first Indian swimmer to win a medal in the Games.
Karmakar was ranked fourth after the semifinal and improved his timing by .032 seconds. He clocked 27.48 sec for the medal.
“I am really happy and thankful to all those who supported me,” said Karmakar, who hails from Patipukur in Kolkata, but shifted base to Haryana.
“History has been made with this bronze. My target is to win gold in next month's Asian Games in China and the 2012 London Olympic Games.”
Karmakar holds the Asian record in 50m butterfly, 50m backstroke and 50m breaststroke.
For quite some time, Karmakar had been training under Nihar Ameen at Bangalore with able-bodied swimmers.
“I was sure of winning a medal at the Commonwealth Games, but for that I required to practice with better swimmers. So, I requested Nihar sir to allow me to train with the able-bodied swimmers,” said Karmakar.
That swim beat his 2008 mark of 25.34, set at the Beijing Paralympics, by the slimmest of margins. He also smashed his Commonwealth Games record of 25.66 set during qualifying this year.
India's biggest hope in main swimming event, Virdhawal Khade, who made it to the 50m butterfly final, finished seventh.
Having made history by making the first Games final, Khade clocked 24.61 to finish seventh.