By Aakash Kumar
New Delhi, Nov 5 (IANS) Ace Indian swimmer Virdhawal Khade believes it will be a tough task for him to win a medal but he will try to give his level-best when he will enter the pool during the seventh and final three-day meet in Qatar of the ongoing FINA World Cup.
Virdhawal will be participating in 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle, 50m butterfly and 50m backstroke categories in the seventh meet starting Thursday at the Hamad Aquatic Centre in Doha.
“My personal expectations are to win a medal at the World Cup. It will be a tough task, but I feel it is achievable,” Virdhawal said while speaking to IANS.
Virdhawal competed in the men’s 50, 100, and 200 meters freestyle events at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, setting an Indian national record in 100 meters freestyle. He failed to qualify for the semifinals in his events despite winning his qualification heat.
“Being a part of the Olympics at such a young age was a great experience for me. Being exposed to the best the world has to offer at a young age really helps in changing your perspective towards a lot of things,” he said while talking about his experience at the Olympics.
“It made me want to achieve great things for India and for myself and I have been working hard to achieve those ever since.”
The 29-year-old, who won a bronze medal in the 50 meters butterfly category at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, further expressed his views about why Indian swimmers have been not been able to qualify for the Olympics.
“India has never had a competitive swimming culture. Swimming isn’t a sport which is accessible to everyone even today. Also the Indian parents don’t look at swimming as a sport that offers a career option.”
“Today in India, cricket, football, Badminton a few other sports and even kabaddi are been looked at sports where you can have a great career,” he added.
According to the Arjuna Awardee, state and district level associations need to be more proactive in order to promote the sport.
“The government is doing a lot to promote all sports in India at the moment. I believe when it comes down to swimming as a sport, I think the state and district level associations need to be more proactive,” he said.
“They need to get involved with more schools and make sure more kids learn how to swim to begin with. When we have more kids in the pool, only then can we expect more kids to get more involved in competitive swimming,” he added.
Speedo athlete Virdhawal considers most successful Olympian Michael Phelps as his idol and draws inspiration from him. “Phelps is to world swimming what Sachin Tendulkar is to cricket in India.”
“Thinking about his achievements, the amount of dedication and hard work that Phelps put in to make those things happen, it is beyond anyone’s imagination,” he added.
Karnataka Swimming Association is set to host Speedo KSA Invitational Swimming Championship on November 9 at Global Swim Centre, Sadashivnagar in Bengaluru.
(Aakash Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])