What's the story?
22-year-old Nethra Kumanan has a good chance of giving India a rare berth in Sailing at Tokyo Olympics 2020.
Nethra Kumanan came into the spotlight a few days back when she created history by becoming the first Indian woman to bag a World Cup medal in sailing. The Chennai-born sailor won the bronze medal in the laser radial event at the recently concluded Hempel World Series in Miami, USA. Nethra stood third in the second round of the tournament. Greek sailor Vesilieia Karachaliou claimed the silver medal while Erika Reineke of the USA bagged the top honours at the event.
Laser Radial is an Olympic sailing class. For the uninitiated, the laser radial is a dinghy-styled, small boat that has to be sailed single-handedly making it quite challenging.
The World Cup Gold medallist is also known for representing India at the 2014 and 2018 Asiad. Kumanan had narrowly missed out on a medal at the Jakarta Asian Games by finishing 5th in women's laser radial event.
The heart of the matter
With her bronze medal at the prestigious World Cup, Nethra now aims to make it to the quadrennial extravaganza in Tokyo which is slated to begin in July. A student of the SRM college, the Indian sailor shared her thoughts to the Olympic Channel after her historic achievement:
"Most people don’t know (sailing) exists in India. Our sports (in India) are cricket, football or hockey and it’s more the navy or the army that sail. I think it’s looking good because now we have more people competing in it at a higher level… the level keeps getting better, so I think more and more people are getting attracted to it. We also see more people than ever before coming in to watch us."
The youngster absolutely loves her sport and has been sailing ever since she was a child. There are only a few other sports that require as much mental resilience as sailing.
The Asian Sailing Championship are slated to kickstart on March 15 and will act as the qualification event for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Nethra will be taking part in this event and be keen on securing a berth. For that to happen, the sprightly sailor will need to secure a top-two finish at the Asian Sailing Championship in Abu Dhabi.
The confident Nethra has a realistic chance of qualifying and will absolutely give it her all at the week-long tournament. The 22-year-old further added:
"This time, I have a really good shot at qualifying and I am doing the best I can do, obviously. But to really achieve something I’d give myself another four years."
Nethra has made a statement on the global stage with her bronze medal. Expecting a medal at the Tokyo Olympics would be unrealistic but making it to the flagship event will in itself be a huge deal for the Indian sailor and inspire many others to take up the sport.