Kushagra Rawat, Srihari Natraj continue to shine with gold medals
Kushagra Rawat triumphed in 400m freestyle to bag his fourth gold medal while Srihari Nataraj created a new meet record on his way to gold in 100m backstroke at the Asian Age Group Championship on Thursday.
Kushagra clocked 3:55.81s to finish ahead of Taipei’s Chang Cheng Li Wei (3:56.82) and Abbas Omar (4:01.52) of Syria.
“The Championships has been good for me so far. I am swimming the 4x200m freestyle relay on Friday and I am confident the Indian team will win the race and I will get my fifth gold medal. I am happy with my timing though I feel I could have done better in 400m and 800m freestyle,” he said.
“I was stuck at the 3:56 seconds mark for six months and I am happy that I have broken it,” said the elated 19-year-old from New Delhi after winning the race.
Kushagra’s idol, Sajan Prakash also made it to the top of the podium in the 200metres butterfly with a time of 2:00.38 seconds. He was followed by Wongcharoen Navaphat (2:01.16) of Thailand and Klzie Ayman (2:02.38) of Syria.
Nataraj enthralled the home crowd with his sensational sprint in the 100m backstroke for open category men. He created a new meet record clocking 55.06 while Atayev Merdan (55.28) from Turkmenistan settled for silver and Lau Shiu Yue (57.56) of Hong Kong won the bronze.
In the most-exciting race of the day, Indian duo of Virdhawal Khade and Natraj were edged out by Khurshidjon Tursunov of Uzbekistan who clocked 50.56 seconds to win the gold. Khade was close behind with a time of 50.68 while Srihari timed 50.91 seconds.
Earlier, the Indian men’s 4x100m medley relay team comprising Nataraj, Sajan Prakash, Likith S P and Khade won gold. The Indian team clocked 3:46.49 seconds to beat Thailand (3:48.89) and Hong Kong (3:53.99) respectively at the Padukone-Dravid Centre of Sports Excellence.
India withstood the challenge posed by Thailand and Hong Kong as they got off to a flying start thanks to Srihari Nataraj (56.55) in backstroke as he finished ahead of Hong Kong’s Lau Shiu Yue (57.72) and Thailand’s Kasipat Chograthin (58.41).
Sajan, diving in next for the butterfly dash, kept up India’s lead with a time of 54.50 seconds while Thailand’s Navaphat Wongcharoen clocked 54.50 seconds and Hong Kong’s Cheung Yau Ming (56.60).
Likith SP, swimming breast stroke, was excellent as he extended the lead clocking fastest time of 1:02.47 while Thailand’s Nuttapong Ketin timed 1:03.69 and Hong Kong’s NG Yan Kin clocked 1:05.82 seconds.
Khade, who won gold in the 50m freestyle on Wednesday, ensured the first-place finish. He timed 53.00 seconds while Thailand’s Tarit Thongchumsin clocked 52.29 seconds and Hong Kong’s Fung Chung Ho 53.85 seconds.