Amidst all the news flashing around the state of Kerala, a local lad from Idukki has become the first Indian swimmer in 32 years to qualify for the 200m butterfly final in the ongoing 2018 Asian Games. Sajan Prakash, 24, is well aware of the entire mishappenings and just when he thought it couldn’t get any worse, he learned that four of his family members have been missing for three days on the evening of his event on Sunday.
Finishing third fastest in the qualifiers, Prakash couldn’t bag a medal but indeed broke the national record by clocking 1 minute 57.75 seconds, finishing fifth in the eight men final. The previous record was owned by Prakash himself (1:58.08) which he set back in May. And in case you are wondering who last qualified for the event; it was Khazan Singh in 1986 and he went on to bag silver.
“He was calling me all day. He is very upset and wasn’t able to focus on the race. If not for this, he would have won a medal,” Prakash’s mother Shantymol told The Indian Express Sunday evening.
Sajan lives with his mother in Puducherry in a one-room government quarter, and his maternal grandfather, his uncle and other members live near the Cheruthony dam in Idukki and have been missing since Thursday. Talking about the news to ESPN, Prakash said that he couldn’t sleep thinking about all this.
“I didn’t think of history or what the medal would mean when I stood on the starting blocks for the final. I was at least trying hard not to. But I guess I was nervous. I couldn’t catch much sleep since I heard my uncle and his family had gone missing. It’s hard when your mind is restless and you’re fearing the worst but still have to focus on the competition.”
That being done, Prakash will have another go at the medal on Monday when he will compete in the 4x200m freestyle relay.