City resident wins three medals at Asian championship
Gurugram City resident Shivani Kataria has won one silver medal each in 200m freestyle and 4x100m freestyle, and bagged a bronze in 800m freestyle at the ongoing 10th Asian Age Group Swimming Championships at the Padukone-Dravid Centre for Sports Excellence, Bengaluru.
The nine-day competition from September 24 to October 2, is witnessing around 1,000 participants from 40 countries taking part in different disciplines — swimming, diving, water polo and artistic swimming.
“The competition has been competitive but I have stuck to the basics,” said 22-year-old Kataria on Thursday.
This event is an ideal opportunity for Indian swimmers to show their talent for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. “I missed out at the Rio Olympics; I really hope that things will change at the Tokyo Olympics,” she said.
Kataria says that much needs to be done when it comes to the facilities provided to swimmers in the city. “The authorities need to provide swimmers with better infrastructure to practise. October is around the corner and Nehru Stadium pool will shut down because it’s not an all-weather pool,” said Kataria, a resident of Sector 14.
There are around 150 swimming pools in the city, all run by private entities. Besides, there is one government-run pool in Kamla Nehru Park.
The state-run pool is 25m long and 12m wide, which is in contrast to an Olympic-sized pool that is 50m long and 25m wide. The Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) is planning to make an all-weather pool so that swimmers won’t have to travel out of the city. Madhu Azad, MCG mayor, said, “We are working on the proposal to make the new pool and it will be done soon.”
Kataria says that she goes all the way to Talkatora Stadium in Delhi for practice. “Every single day, I have to travel with my friends to Talkatora Stadium. I practise for four hours daily. I hope the authorities will do something about it so that swimmers can practise in the city,” the international-level swimmer said.
Kataria’s coach Ravinder is fairly hopeful that she will qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games this year. “This year has been good for Shivani. I see to it that she goes through her regular training session and will qualify for the Olympic Games,” he said.
Kataria is a final year student of BA pass course in Hans Raj College. “Studies are important for me, but I want to become the best swimmer in the country. My ultimate dream is to win an Olympic gold for India and stand at the podium when our country’s national anthem is played,” she added.