Indian swimming great Khazan Singh Tokas feels Virdhawal Khade's bronze at the Guangzhou Asian Games will inspire the country's next generation of swimmers to win more international medals.
"It feels great to see a young Indian boy to win a medal in the Asian Games after 24 years. It is a great achievement. I was expecting more from him, but I am happy with his performance," an elated Khazan, who was the last Indian before Khade to win a swimming medal at the 1986 Asian Games, told IANS on Tuesday.
Khade's bronze is the first swimming medal for India since the 1986 Asian Games in Seoul, where Khazan won the silver in the 200 metres butterfly event. The only Indian swimmer to win a gold medal is Sachin Nag in the 100 metres freestyle at the inaugural Asian Games in Delhi in 1951.
Khazan said that Khade is an excellent swimmer and a bright prospect for India.
"Khade has really impressed me. He is an excellent swimmer and India's best. If supported properly, Khade can win more medals at the international level," said Khazan.
"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!"
Asked why it took so long for an Indian to win an Asiad swimming medal, Khazan said: "Today Indian swimmers are getting some of the best training facilities. Thanks to Commonwealth Games. But what they lack is the confident. I am sure this bronze medal will boost the confidence of the next generation of Indian swimmers. They will have someone to look at as a role model in Khade."
Khade's coach Nihar Ameen also lauded the youngster for the bronze.
"It's a big day for Indian swimming and an affirmation of his talent. I have always told everyone that Veer is a world class athlete and today he has proven his worth," said Nihar.