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Khelo India 2019, Swimming: Maana Patel helps Gujarat boost medals tally with two golds and a silver

435   //    17 Jan 2019, 16:01 IST

Gujarat's Maana Patel (in middle) with her 50m backstroke gold medal
Gujarat's Maana Patel (in middle) with her 50m backstroke gold medal

Pune, Jan 17: Maana Patel left her training base in Mumbai for three days to help increase Gujarat’s medals by two golds and a silver in swimming at the Khelo India Youth Games at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex 2019 here.

Still in training mode, the graceful backstroke swimmer is hopeful of qualifying for the World Championships to be held in July in Gwangju, South Korea.

She won the 50m backstroke gold in 30.48 seconds to add to the 200m backstroke title she won in 2:23.00 in the girls under-21 section. Coming here after a triple gold effort in the National Swimming Championships in Thiruvananthapuram in September, she had reason to be pleased with her haul here.

If she needed proof that her shoulder was not a cause for concern anymore, she found it in abundance here. She had to spend a year and a half in recovery mode after detecting a tear in her left shoulder muscle, missing out on many events including the Asian Games in Jakarta last year. The time away from the pool has only made her resolve stronger.

Consider this, in March 2017, Maana could not even lift a bottle of water and things looked pretty grim. She may have gone under a surgeon’s knife but she was found to be too weak to be put through the procedure. In fact, she had been sent to the pool as she was too skinny. Instead, she worked with renowned physiotherapist Heath Matthews in Mumbai and got back to competitive fitness.

She has made Mumbai her base, where she now trains with the Glenmark Swimming Foundation. “I am happy with the space I am in. It helps to be patient and bide one’s time. Of course, missing out on the Asian Games last year was bad but I know I could have hurt my long-term prospects had I rushed to compete in Jakarta,” she said.

She is now raring to do something special – like securing a qualifying time for the World Championships. She will go to Europe to try and secure entry to the World Championships. She needs times of 28.22 seconds for 50m backstroke, 1:00.59 for 100m and 2:11.53 for the four-lap event. Her personal bests are 29.30 seconds, 1:04.33 and 2:20.42 respectively.

The 18-year-old Maana Patel has challenging targets but there is not even a hint of hesitation as she speaks of making the grade on her own steam. “If I qualify for the Worlds in the Luxembourg meet, I will sit back and train. Else, I will have to look at three other events that have been earmarked as qualifying meets,” she said.

These meets will tell the teenager how ready her body is to take on the challenge of improving her times. But she has already proved that despite being away from competition for 18 months between March 2017 and August last year, she has retained hunger in her belly and focus to give herself the best chance to realizing her new goals.