Indian swimmer Maana Patel qualifies for Tokyo 2020 in 'Universality quota'
Maana Patel

On Friday, The Swimming Federation of India confirmed that Maana Patel had qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. The 21-year-old swimmer from Ahmedabad will compete in the women’s 100m backstroke event, representing the Indian contingent. She is the third swimmer to qualify along with Srihari Nataraj and Sajan Prakash for the Olympics. 

Patel got her entry into Olympics through the Universality Quota with not even the ‘B’ qualifying mark, but she knows that this year, the Olympics for her is more about gaining experience. However, the eyes are set on her performance at the upcoming Summer Games.

Here are five interesting things to know more about the swimmer. 

She broke her own record at the recent Belgrade Trophy

Maana broke her own Indian record at the Belgrade Trophy held on June 20, 2021, in Serbia. She set a time of 1:03.77s in the 100m backstroke event beating her previous record of 1:04.21s that was set in 2015 in Uzbekistan. She has set the bar to go 1:02s or lower in the subsequent women’s 100m backstroke event at Tokyo.

Clinched Medals at the South-Asian Games 2016 in Guwahati

She represented India at the 13th South-Asian Games in 2016 and managed to clinch two Gold Medals at Guwahati in the 4x100m Freestyle Relay and 4x100m Medley Relay events, respectively. She even won 3 Silver Medals in 200m Backstroke, 50m Backstroke and 200m Backstroke. Patel also won a Bronze Medal in the 50m Freestyle event in the following game.

First Swimmer to acquire support from the Olympic Gold Quest, Mumbai

Maana has carved her name in the history of swimming by becoming the fastest Indian backstroker of all age groups. At the age of 13, she managed to break Olympian Shikha Tandon’s Senior National Record of 2:26.41s by clocking 2:23.41s. She even became the first swimmer to get an offer of support from the Olympic Gold Quest under its scholarship programme. The Olympic Gold Quest is led by veteran Badminton player Prakash Padukone and former Billiards Champion Geet Sethi. Its headquarters are in Mumbai.

Maana featured in the TedxYouth in 2020

The swimmer also featured in the TedxYouth@MGIS in 2020, where she spoke about her idea of Vision beyond Winning. She spoke about the journey of her swimming career. Maana focussed on how she tackled depression when she had a labrum tear in the left shoulder. This debarred her from playing some of the most important games including Junior Nationals and World Championship.

However, she overcame the rough phase by accepting the challenge with self-confidence, belief and positivity. Maana believes that her vision beyond winning is to enjoy the journey and be grateful for the factors that keep her going.

Vocal about animal welfare

Patel happens to be vocal about animal welfare. She daily feeds stray dogs and has even saved the lives of many by providing necessary treatments. She considers animals and birds her friends and so her Instagram bio reads— Pashu Pakshi Mitra.

Patel is preparing for other real opportunities in the following years to come. But, currently, she is gearing up for the next big match and training under Peter Carswell at the Glenmark Aquatic Foundation in Mumbai.

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