CHENNAI:For someone who struggled to get support from the Tamil Nadu state swimming body, Sajan Prakash has been a phenomenal success at the national level, with jaw-dropping performance at the National Games in Kerala in February.
While representing Tamil Nadu, Sajan never got the chance to fulfill potential, and when he got the Indian Railways gig at Bengaluru, he grabbed it with both hands. “When I was in the Tamil Nadu squad, they didn’t help me much, be it financially or morally. Plus, they wouldn’t bear my tournament expenses, whether I was performing well or not. So, the Indian Railways job was a blessing,” said the 21-year-old. Literally coming out of the blues, the Idukki-born lad stormed the National Games.
He bagged six gold and three silver medals, and scripted four meet records. “It felt pretty good to perform so well in Kerala. At the National Championships two months earlier, I couldn’t win even one gold, so to put up such a performance was testament to my hard work,” said Sajan, who was brought up in the mining hub of Neyveli.
Interestingly, he was representing his native state Kerala at the National Games. “Normally, I would be obliged to represent Railways in any national meet. But in Kerala, all the non-state sectors came together under the Services banner and took part, so there was an option to represent other states.
“And the authorities from Kerala were kind enough to ask me to represent them. They made me feel wanted, and offered good money as well. This was important as swimming is not financially well supported in the country, and to be given such a sum helped me make my decision,” Sajan opined.
With the Kazan World Championship just two months away, Sajan hopes to get a South Africa trip cleared. “I want to train with Chad le Clos (2012 London Olympic gold medallist) in Durban, so that I can improve ahead of Kazan and Rio Olympics. For that, I’m still awaiting government clearance. If not, I’ll be going to Thailand for a FINA event, and they will sponsor my training there for a year,” revealed the short course-turned-long distance swimmer.
Sajan had a word of praise for Incheon Asian Games bronze medallist Sandeep Sejwal. “He fully deserves the medal, as he had put in the extra yards to make sure he was ready. He did something special and that in itself should be applauded,” Sajan gushed. With age on his side, here’s someone trying to make most of his maiden international outing.