The Indian sailors will have a final opportunity to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics when they participate in the 2021 Mussanah Open Championships in Oman. The event, which is an Asian Qualifier, will be held at the Al Mussanah Sports City from April 1-8.
The Indian sailors will compete in four classes — 49er (men and women), laser standard, laser radial, and windsurfing.
Kumanan & Harshita have a good chance of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics
Leading the Indian challenge will be Asian Games medallists Varun Thakkar, KC Ganapathy, and Harshita Tomar. The 23-year-old Nethra Kumanan will also look to capitalize on the opportunity to punch her ticket to Tokyo.
In January last year, Kumanan became the first Indian woman to win a medal at the Sailing World Cup Series. Her trip to Tokyo will be guaranteed if she finishes inside the top-two in laser radial.
While Varun and Ganapathy will compete in the men’s 49er, Harshita will represent the country in the women’s laser radial class.
Meanwhile, in a major setback for the Indian sailing squad, their sailboats are stuck in Abu Dhabi as the qualifying event was originally scheduled there. But it was later shifted to Oman after surging cases of coronavirus emerged across the Emirates.
The Yachting Association of India (YAI) is leaving no stone unturned to get the sailboats moved to Oman on time.
"It is a logistical nightmare and we are running against time. We are hoping to get it done by road. In case we are not able to do that, we are planning to hire boats in Oman, that is the back-up,” said the joint-secretary of YAI Jitendra Dixit, as quoted by The Hindu.
So far, India has never managed to secure a sailing berth at the Olympics. Both Kumanan and Harshita have a good chance of becoming the first Indian sailors to make it to the Olympics.