The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tough task ahead for Indian swimmers

Bangalore: Pitted against strong contenders from China, Korea, Japan and South Africa, Indian swimmers would find the going tough at the Afro-Asian Games in Hyderabad starting next week, where their focus seems to be more on securing a berth to Athens Olympics next year.

Twenty-seven probables — Rehan Poncha is training in Australia and joining them this weekend — are undergoing four hours of rigorous training at a two-week preparatory camp. “We are trying to win some medals but it will be tough”, chief coach Pradeep Kumar said.

There are reports that China are fielding a strong swimming squad, including more than half-a-dozen gold medallists of the Busan Asian Games.

For Indian swimmers determined to earn a ticket to Athens, the coming Intercontinental Games definitely is a golden opportunity as the event has been recognised by Fina, the world governing body.

Shikha Tandon will have to repeat her 50m freestyle performance of Calcutta nationals, in Hyderbad to secure the berth as her qualifying mark in Calcutta is not recognised by Fina.

Incidentally, the Swimming Federation of India (SFI) had announced during the nationals in Calcutta last month that Shikha’s gold-winning 26.61 seconds was way ahead of the Athens qualification mark of 26.92. However, the SFI secretary V. Nanavati could not be available for comment in this regard.

Other top contenders are Poncha (200m butterfly), Akbar Ali Mir (200m individual medley), Richa Mishra (200m butterfly) and Nisha Millet (200m free-style). (PTI)

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