Asian Age Group Swimming Championship: Kushagra, Natraj continue to shine with gold medals

In the Asian Age Group Championship, Kushagra Rawat won his fourth gold medal in the 400m freestyle race, while Srihari Nataraj set a new meet record in the 100m backstroke event. Kushagra finished with a time of 3:55.81s, ahead of Taipei’s Chang Cheng Li Wei (3:56.82) and Syria’s Abbas Omar (4:01.52).

Kushagra expressed his satisfaction with the championships so far and is confident that the Indian team will win the 4x200m freestyle relay, allowing him to secure his fifth gold medal. Although he is pleased with his timing, he believes he could have performed better in the 400m and 800m freestyle races.

Sajan Prakash, Kushagra’s idol, also won gold in the 200m butterfly event with a time of 2:00.38s. Thailand’s Wongcharoen Navaphat (2:01.16) and Syria’s Klzie Ayman (2:02.38) took the silver and bronze medals, respectively.

In the 100m backstroke for open category men, Srihari Nataraj thrilled the home crowd with a sensational sprint, setting a new meet record of 55.06. He was followed by Atayev Merdan (55.28) from Turkmenistan, who won silver, and Lau Shiu Yue (57.56) from Hong Kong, who won bronze.

In an exciting race, Indian swimmers Virdhawal Khade and Srihari Nataraj were defeated by Khurshidjon Tursunov from Uzbekistan, who won the gold with a time of 50.56 seconds. Khade finished closely behind with a time of 50.68 seconds, and Srihari timed at 50.91 seconds.

The Indian men’s 4x100m medley relay team, comprising Nataraj, Prakash, Likith S P, and Khade, also won gold. They clocked 3:46.49 seconds, surpassing Thailand (3:48.89) and Hong Kong (3:53.99) at the Padukone-Dravid Centre of Sports Excellence.

Leading the relay, Nataraj finished first in the backstroke with a time of 56.55 seconds, followed by Hong Kong’s Lau Shiu Yue (57.72) and Thailand’s Kasipat Chograthin (58.41).

Prakash maintained India’s lead in the butterfly leg with a time of 54.50 seconds, while Thailand’s Wongcharoen Navaphat and Hong Kong’s Cheung Yau Ming followed closely behind, both timing exactly 54.50 seconds.

Swimming breaststroke, Likith SP extended the lead with a time of 1:02.47, the fastest among the competitors. Thailand’s Nuttapong Ketin timed 1:03.69, and Hong Kong’s NG Yan Kin clocked 1:05.82 seconds.

Khade, who had already won gold in the 50m freestyle earlier in the competition, secured first place in the relay, clocking 53.00 seconds. Thailand’s Tarit Thongchumsin timed 52.29 seconds, and Hong Kong’s Fung Chung Ho finished in 53.85 seconds.