'Indian swimmers need scientific technology, foreign training'
Asian Games bronze medallist Virdhawal Khade on Thursday said Indian swimmers need modern training facilities and adequate foreign exposure to fetch more medals at international events.
"We have a very talented set of swimmers in India, but we lack modern facilities. International swimmers have the benefit of some of the best training centres and latest technologies," Khade told PTI Bhasha from Guangzhou.
"But we will get there, we have started to get the right results on the world stage. With better results, I hope the right people will sit up and take notice and provide Indian swimmers with better facilities, support, scientific testing and other tools to improve our performance," he added.
Khade scripted history when he became the first Indian swimmer in 24 years to clinch an Asian Games medal by notching up a bronze in the 50m butterfly event in Guangzhou. He topped his heat by clocking 24.56sec, finished third in the finals with a timing of 24.31sec.
Khazan Singh was the last Indian swimmer to win a medal at the Asian Games when he clinched the 100m freestyle silver in the 1986 Seoul edition.
Khade hoped his medal will boost the popularity of the sport in the country.
"It is definitely a very big result for Indian sport and swimming in particular. Since Khajan sir's heroics at the 1986 Asian Games, Indian swimmers have been improving steadily and it was only a matter of time before we made it among the medals.
"Things are definitely looking up now. With Prasanta's medal in the Delhi Games and this victory here, things are moving in the right direction," he said.
Image: Virdhawal Khade
'At international level you must push yourself the extra mile'
Khade expected more help and support from the government and federation now that India have won a bronze after 24 years.
"The Federation and government have helped the swimmers in the lead up to the CWG and I seriously hope they continue to provide this support to us as it is much needed. The moment the federation is professional and proactive, sponsors will also pump more funds and support. I hope that our medals will encourage them to extend all the support needed," he said.
It was not an easy task to excel twice in such short duration but Khade said he was mentally prepared for it.
"It is always difficult to swim at such a level back-to-back, but at an international event you must be ready to push yourself the extra mile. I have trained very hard on my endurance so I was prepared for the challenge," he said.
Khade credited his coach Nihar Ameen for his success who worked very hard with him.
"I have been very lucky to have a coach like Mr Nihar Ameen. He has ensured that we remain focused and determined. We had been preparing rigorously and focused on the basics and swimming to our strengths. I am also lucky to have the support of a big team behind me in GoSports Foundation and former Olympian Hakumuddin Habibulla," said Khade.
After the rigorous training and competition Khade wants to spend some time with his family now.
"For now, I am looking forward to a little time off with my family but will soon be back to training in a couple of weeks. There are no immediate competitions so this would be a great time to work on my swimming," he said.
Image: Virdhawal Khade