With his family safe, Prakash can focus on Asian Games
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — After what Sajan Prakash has endured over the past week, the swimming competition at the Asian Games seems trivial.
Yet it's the one thing that has helped keep him in a reasonable frame of mind.
One of India's fastest and most promising swimmers, Prakash has struggled to keep his thoughts on his events in Jakarta after learning that five members of his family had been missing in the devastating floods in the Indian state of Kerala.
Torrential downpours began hammering Kerala on Aug. 8, more than two months into the annual monsoon season, setting off devastating floods that left more than 200 people dead and sent more than 800,000 fleeing for dry land.
Prakash's mother kept the news of the missing family members from him until they were all safely found, because she didn't want to worry him. But that didn't stop the anxiety.
He knew about the floods from other team members inside the Asian Games athletes' village and had trouble sleeping.
"I couldn't contact those people who are affected but I've been in contact with my relatives who are outside of Kerala and they said 'we're all safe so not to worry,'" he said. "But being with my teammates is different from being alone.
"They kept me entertained and focused for the meet."
With the reassurance of his mother and his teammates, Prakash made swimming his priority after accepting that there was nothing he could do change the situation at home.
His single-minded approach worked. He became the first Indian to make a final at the Asian Games in 32 years when he finished fifth in the 200 meters butterfly.
On Wednesday, his relief was even more evident when he helped India reach the 4x100-meter freestyle final.