Swimmer delighted to give India a rare swimming Asian Games bronze in the 50m breaststroke
Sandeep Sejwal calls his event the 50m breaststroke as one that is swum on autopilot. Yet, there was a time, just around the 40m mark, when he did admit that he thought he could even win the gold medal.
“Generally we just don’t think during a 50m event, we just go through it. But I did feel I could touch first (win),” said an overjoyed Sejwal, whose bronze was only the fourth swimming medal for India in the Asian Games.
Incidentally, swimming is not a priority sport according to the Sports Ministry, but maybe a second medal in as many Games will bring about a re-think. His coach, Nihar Ameen, who has been his pillar of strength for the past eight years, said, “For a fleeting moment when he was ahead, I thought he could even win. Then he had a ‘hiccup’ which is basically trouble with one stroke and then went on to finish third, but this medal is great for Indian swimming.”
India's Sandeep Sejwal in Incheon yesterday. Pic/AFP.
“We had focused on winning this medal over the last four years and worked very hard to achieve it,” said Ameen.
Sejwal was in the fifth lane and he was fractionally ahead just past the 40m mark before Kazakhstan’s Dmitry Balandin first and then Japan’s Yasuko Koseki overtook him to push him to a bronze medal.
Sandeep Sejwal with his 50m breaststroke bronze medal. Pic/PTI.
The gold went to Balandin in 27.78s, two-hundredths of a second better than the Games record, while the silver went to Koseki, who clocked 27.89s.
Sejwal took the bronze in 28.26s after qualifying for the final in 28.25s in the morning. He said, “I shifted from Delhi to Bangalore eight years ago and worked very hard. I always wanted to win a medal in the Asian Games. It’s a dream come true. If I had not won the medal today, I would have felt the time I had spent in Bangalore was a waste.”
It’s something Sejwal and Ameen have dreamt about together and it became a reality yesterday. “Four years ago, Virdhawal (Khade) won a bronze. Today, I have won. I feel very proud. It has yet to sink in and I have just spoken to my mom for about 10 seconds,” said Sejwal.