Last week, Sajan Prakash was under pressure after the 19th International swimming meet in Belgrade.
Despite having the best Indian performance (1:56.95) in 200m butterfly, Sajan wasn't happy, for he had missed the A cut for Tokyo Olympics.
Sajan only had one more meet in Rome to achieve the Olympic A standard qualification mark and he was feeling the heat.
Sajan reworked his strategy before the Rome meet with coach Pradeep Kumar. They analysed his Belgarde race, breaking it into smaller parts, and decided that Sajan needed to gain speed and distance in the early part of the race to qualify.
In Rome, Sajan then knew exactly what he had to do and paced his race well to qualify. He went fast in the first half of the race, clocking 25.99s for the first 50 metres and 55.56s for the 100m and finished the race in 1:56.38s. He had finally breached the qualifying mark of 1:56.48s which he has been chasing since 2019.
Sajan was a relieved man, and said his hard work in Dubai with coach Pradeep had paid off.
“I am very happy that I was finally able to achieve this. It meant a lot to me as I have been chasing this mark for the last two years. Injury and lockdown affected my training. For the last one year I was training hard with my coach Pradeep Kumar in Dubai. It was difficult to get entries for meets. I was denied entry for a meet in France but managed to get one for the Belgrade meet.
“I did my life best in the Belgrade meet and knew I had to come up with something extraordinary in the Rome. The six days gap we got between the two meets was used to analyse and plan strategy for my race.
“We came to conclusion that I needed to have more power and speed in the first half of the race. I went all out from the start and was able to execute my plans well,” he said.
Dronacharya S. Pradeep Kumar said Sajan's effort should be considered as a benchmark in Indian swimming. He also said his ward was capable of improving his performance in Tokyo.
“It is a great achievement and it means he is among the top swimmers in the world. But world standards are improving everyday. I feel Sajan can still improve this performance in Olympics. I consider his effort as a benchmark in Indian swimming which upcoming swimmers can try to emulate,” he said.