He made a cameo appearance and literally stole the limelight from the lead actors. For three days Virdhawal Khade watched from the stands the record-breaking efforts of Rehan Poncha and other swimmers and when his turn came the red hot swimmer really turned on the heat.
Two meet records came with minimum effort as he destroyed the field in 50m freestyle and 50m butterfly races. By setting a new mark in 50m freestyle, Khade also erased Sebastian Xavier’s longest-standing record from the books.
“I just trained two weeks for this meet. I was busy preparing for my exams. I gained nine pounds during my lay-off and it is good to break a record with just two weeks of workout,” he said nonchalantly after breaking the record in the 50m freestyle.
“Basically I was competing here just to keep myself in competitive trim and gauge myself before the Asian indoor championships,” he said.
Sebastian Xavier, who witnessed Khade’s record-breaking effort, was quite impressed with the youngster. “He is an awesome talent and has the right credentials to win a medal at the Asian Games,” he said.
Coached by Nihar Amin at the KC Reddy swim Club in Bangalore, the Beijing Olympian is already a multiple record holder. The youngster stole the thunder in the Commonwealth Youth Games in Pune where he came up with best Indian performances in all the events he took part.
Much was expected of him in the FINA World Championships in Rome but Khade disappointed. “I wasn’t in good shape and was ill. Nevertheless it was a good learning experience for me,” he said.
The youngster reckons he has a good chance of winning a medal in at least four events in next year’s Asian Games in China. It is stating the obvious that the future of Indian swimming is on the broad shoulders of this 18-year-old student from Kholapur.