KOCHI: Sometimes, Sajan Prakash makes it all look effortless. The 25-year-old Olympian took part in the 2019 World Police and Fire Games and won nine medals in nine events. Six gold, two silver and one bronze was his tally at the ongoing event in Chengdu (China).
After the high of achieving the B-mark of Olympic Standard Time (OST) — during the World Championships in Gwangju last month — the Police Games came at the perfect time as he goes after qualification.
"There were some swimmers from Germany and Russia who gave a fight, but the level of competition was not that tough, honestly," he told this daily from Bengaluru.
What counted more for him was an opportunity to assess himself, fine-tune his technique and perfect details. After his exploits in China, Prakash flew down to Bengaluru to work with coach Pradeep Kumar for the National Aquatic Championship, which starts on August 31 in Bhopal.
And Prakash has targetted the event to launch his assault at the A-mark of OST. "I have only one objective going into the Senior Nationals that is to get A qualifying time. Doing well at this meet will ensure I'm on the Indian contingent for the Asian Age Group Championships in Bengaluru which is a qualifying event. Swimming an Olympic Qualifier at home will surely be an advantage. My focus will be on two events," he said, referring to the 100m and 200m butterfly events.
His participation in Police Games was possible only after he was inducted by the Kerala Police as an inspector. Prakash, who participated in the 2016 Olympics and created history at the 2018 National Aquatic Championship by winning five gold from five events, is more relieved than happy after his appointment.
"I have no savings because everything that I get or my mother earns goes straight back into sustaining my career. This will help to some extent but a lot more help is needed. I don't want to give excuses or complain, but athletes who are performing need support from the government."
Prakash is no longer in the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) run by the sports ministry, which provides assistance to India's top athletes. He feels it is demoralising not just for him, but for those who are performing but not getting support.
"A lot of financial burden falls on me and some times it gets difficult to manage things. But these things have been going on for many years. I have been performing consistently and maybe I'm the voice of those athletes who are performing well but are not getting the support they need. But for the time being, I have to set everything aside. I am focussed only on Olympic qualification." Sajan who is represented by Baseline Ventures said.