On Thursday, Indian para-swimmer Niranjan Mukundan set a new Asian record in 200 m backstroke event at the Para-Swimming World Series 2018 in Berlin. The 23-year-old finished with a timing of 3:16.01 seconds thus eclipsing the old record of 4:02.49 seconds set in 2003 by Vietnam swimmer Van Chung.
Speaking from Berlin, the Bengaluru-based swimmer revealed how his win was an unexpected one. Niranjan told Sportskeeda, "I was not really expecting such a timing because it’s almost been a year since I officially competed for India. I have been struggling with back-to-back injuries over the past few months and surgeries for the same."
"But I was very excited and happy after I got to know it was a new record," he added.
Injuries are a part and parcel of sport and every sportsman has to go through it at one point or another during their careers. It is how they respond to these obstacles that make them champions in their sport. For Niranjan, as well it was an extremely difficult period, but he managed to keep himself motivated throughout.
"It was very difficult because 5 months of bed rest and then once I started to recover there was a new injury. But I started training mentally and I know that I don’t have much time, so I managed to keep myself focused on my road to recovery," he said.
The young swimmer has already made the cut for the Asian Para Games to be held in Jakarta in October. At the meet in Indianapolis in April, he clocked 1:14.75 seconds in the 100m freestyle category and 1:57.59 seconds in the 100m breaststroke category, which is well under the cut off of 2:19.86 seconds (S7 category) and 3:33.83 seconds (SB6 category) respectively.
When asked about his targets in Jakarta, Niranjan revealed that more than anything, he was focusing on getting into the top 5 in Asia. He said, "For the Asian games, more than giving just the qualifying times, I want to make it in the top 5 of the Asian rankings at the earliest... that would be my immediate next goal and definitely go for gold at the Asian games."
In Berlin, the challenge is not yet over for Niranjan. though. He is set to take the pool in the 50m butterfly and 400m freestyle events in the next couple of days, in which he hopes to make the qualifying cut off time for the Asian Games.