Patel, who currently holds the national record in the women’s 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke events, has been training hard, putting all learnings from the Tokyo Olympics into use.
In an exclusive conversation with Sportskeeda, Maana Patel said her short-term goal is to qualify for the prestigious Asian Games. She said:
“I started training from the last week of August, preparing myself for the Senior Nationals, which will start from October 26. The focus is on qualifying for the Asian Games. My target is to breach the qualifying mark of 1:02.06s, which is the qualifying time for the third position in 100m backstroke.”
Patel knows what it takes to get there. The versatile swimmer knows a healthy mix of talent and mental toughness is sure to take her to her goals.
“It does lie in a little bit of technicality. What is of prime importance is that I have to be mentally fit, push myself harder and train at a different level from where I am right now. My personal best is 1:03.77s and I know that achieving the Asian Games qualifying mark is possible if I put my head into it.”
After the Senior National Championship, Maana Patel plans to start her off-season training and later take part in some international events. The events are to help her gain sufficient experience before her tryst to qualify for the Asian Games starts.
“International exposure is very necessary. They help you to push yourself beyond your boundaries and it toughens you up for the big stages. You get to look a expert swimmers and you also want to compete at that level. My coach would have definitely shortlisted some international tournaments for me, and I hope to do well.”
Tokyo Olympics – A huge learning curve for Maana Patel
Earlier this year, Maana Patel was the cynosure of all eyes. The Bengaluru swimmer became the first female swimmer to qualify for the Olympics. At the Tokyo Olympics, Maana Patel finished second in the heats but failed to qualify for the semi-finals.
However, the experience of playing on the sporting world’s biggest stage was exhilarating.
“What I have learned from my Tokyo Olympics sojourn are two main things. One is to be in the moment without carrying any baggage of the past or thinking too much about the future. A lot happened simultaneously and it was a once in a lifetime experience. The second is, to be mentally tough. I did get anxious and nervous and what I have learned is a little bit of well-being of your own self and nurturing the human inside me is important.”
Being mentally tough and in good shape is of prime importance in sport these days and Maana Patel knows it to the cue. The swimmer plans to take mental well-being sessions from a professional and knows it will help her in the long run.
“I have been sporadic in talking to sports psychologists so far. It was just that one message or one call till now. But now, I plan to take professional mental wellness sessions. I would be taking sessions from noted sports psychologist Sanjana Kiran soon.”
Armed with experience and expertise, Maana Patel hopes to crack the qualifying campaign and take part in the Asian Games, adding another prestigious event to her illustrious cap.