After 50m butterfly gold, Pune swimmer eyes further glory at Khelo India
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After 50m butterfly gold, Pune swimmer eyes further glory at Khelo India

Mihir Ambre lived up to his tag as a medal hopeful after he clinched an impressive gold in 25.71 seconds. He has also etched his name in history by setting a national record in the 100m butterfly event with a timing of 55.65 seconds

pune Updated: Jan 12, 2019 17:06 IST
Pranav Shahaney
Pranav Shahaney
Hindustan Times, Pune
pune,50m,butterfly
Ambre’s second-place finish at the World School Championships 2017 in Budapest, Hungary, is the most important achievement of his life as he was the only Indian swimmer from a contingent of 15 to return home with a medal.(HT PHOTO)

With a timing of 25.71 seconds in the 50m butterfly swimming event on Thursday, city swimmer Mihir Ambre lived up to his tag as a medal hopeful after he clinched an impressive gold at Khelo India 2019 held at the Balewadi sports complex.

However, with four more events still to go for the local lad, the quest for further glory is in the wings during the next few days.

A day prior to his 100m event set to be held on Saturday, Ambre expressed what a fantastic journey it has been for him thus so far at Khelo India and also how much of an impact broadcasting has had on the tournament.

The year that passed by was a mixed bag for the 18-year-old as he started it off with a few good showings, but a wrist injury midway through 2018 saw him out of action for three months, which derailed his progress considerably. He is yet to match the timings he set prior to his setback but is optimistic of turning things around in no time.

When quizzed about where the optimism came from, he stated, “I am trying to get back to my old timings and am pretty close to it right now. I’m off my best timing by one-tenth of a second. To get back to my best I’m working more on my technique rather than spending the same amount of time I used to earlier. Rather than focusing on my endurance by swimming for 5km at a stretch, I’m concentrating on the finer aspects of my swimming.”

Ambre’s achievements from the past years spoke wonders about how impressive the journey has been for him this far. Winning his first national gold at the age of 14 in 2014 is what has inspired him to take up swimming as a career and caused a certain hunger in his belly for greater glory.

In fact, before turning 14, Ambre, in his own admission, was an average swimmer at best who did not win anything significant. However, once he got trained under the stewardship of Vinay Marathe, things drastically improved and he etched his name in the history books by setting the national record in the 100m butterfly event with a timing of 55.65 seconds.

“I used to train at Deccan Gymkhana before joining Vinay Marathe four years ago. He was the one who changed my stroke completely and I was nothing before I turned 14. Earlier, I used to only swim distances without any purpose to it but when I started training under Marathe it was about technique, endurance and sprints, added Ambre

Talking fondly about his mother, Medha Ambre, who left her job in order to help Ambre with his training schedule, monitoring his diet and many other things. According to Ambre, she had made an impact or an important role as equal to his coach making him the swimmer he is today.

“My mother has played just as much of a role as my coach has in my journey to being where I am now. She left her job so that she could spend time with me and help me focus on my swimming. When I started training at the national level, she used to take care of my nutrition and gave me supplements that I needed. She also travels with me for the national and international competitions,” said the local prodigy.

Having won five international gold medals throughout his eight-year of swimming career, it is a silver medal that he holds the dearest to him.

His second-place finish at the World School Championships 2017 in Budapest, Hungary is the most important achievement of his life as he was the only Indian swimmer from a contingent of 15 to return home with a medal.

“Being the only Indian to win a medal at the event was a remarkable achievement. We had a huge contingent travelling to Hungary and with nobody managing to get their hands on a medal, for me to win it meant that I stood out for the rest and was an exceptional moment for me,” said the 18-year-old.

“When he came to me his stroke technique was slightly poor and he was a rough swimmer. So I had to smoothen his stroke, set his head position and correct his breathing as well. There were a lot of physiological changes that needed to be done. I’ve seen tremendous progress in him in the past four years he’s been with me. Initially, he was only a 50m swimmer and now he’s doing very well in the 100m as well. In the next five years, I hope to see him competing in the Olympics,”said Vinay Marathe, Mihir Ambre’s coach

With Maharashtra atop the medal standings, having a swimmer of Ambre’s calibre certainly betters their chances to consolidate their lead at the top and end Khelo India 2019 as the winning team.

ACHIEVEMENTS

Best timings

50m butterfly: 25.1 seconds

100m butterfly: 55.65 seconds (national record)

International medals

Gold (4)

* South Asian Championships, Sri Lanka 2016 -100m butterfly

and three relay events – 4x100 Mixed Medley Relay, 4x100m Medley Relay

* 1 gold medal at Asian Age Group Championships, Uzbekistan 2017

-100m butterfly

Silver (5)

* South Asian Aquatic Championship - 4x100m Freestyle Relay

* 4x100m Mixed freestyle relay

* World School Championship - 100m Butterfly

* Singapore Nationals - 100m Butterfly

* Asian Age Group Championship - 4x100m Medley Relay

First Published: Jan 12, 2019 17:05 IST