Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Indians @ the Commonwealth Youth Games – Virdhawal rules the pool

The swimming pool turned out to be the most happening place at the Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune, which played host to the Commonwealth Youth Games from 12-18 October 2008, thanks to the exploits of Virdhawal Khade who captured the imagination of everyone present. No one wanted to miss the chance to watch history in the making where Australian and British swimmers were left in the wake of an Indian swimmer. With each gold Virdhawal won the voices singing the National Anthem during the victory ceremony kept getting louder making every Indian proud.

At the Commonwealth Youth Games the participants have to be 18yrs and under to participate. Virdhawal, who turned 17 in the end of August, had a tough schedule as he had to swim eight events (5 Individual and 3 Relays) over a span of just 3 days. He went on to finish the meet becoming the most decorated athlete of the Games winning three gold medals, w/ new meet records, and two silver medals out of his five individual events. In the two events where Virdhawal won silver he got touched out by Australian swimmers a year older to him. He also helped the Indian 4*100m Freestyle relay team win a silver medal. Four new national records were rewritten at the Games. His results were as follows:

50m Freestyle – 22.68sec Gold (New meet and National record)

100m Freestyle – 49.47sec Gold (New meet and National record)

200m Freestyle – 1min 49.86sec Silver (New National record)

50m Butterfly – 24.25sec Gold (New meet and National record)

100m Butterfly – 54.01sec Silver (Personal best)

Check the following to get a sense of the quality of swims:

  • In the 100m Freestyle, Virdhawal swam over half a second faster than the World Youth Swimming Championship Record, which was set in Mexico in July this year, and would feature second to only Ian Thorpe in the 18yrs and under category in the Australian All-time ranking.
  • Virdhawal's timings are quicker than Eamon Sullivan's timings when Eamon was 18yrs old. Sullivan (now 23yrs old) is from Australia and is the current world record holder in the 50m and 100m Freestyle.
  • First Indian to break into the top 150 FINA World Rankings in 2008. Achieved it in three events this year. Ranked No. 57 in the 50m Butterfly, No. 79 in the 100m Freestyle and No. 105 in the 50m Freestyle per the FINA World Swimming Rankings 2008 (last updated on 15-Oct-08). In the 50m Butterfly and 100m Freestyle Virdhawal is the youngest in the top 100.
  • Amongst the fastest in Asia. His times in the 50m and 100m Freestyle would have fetched him silver medals at the Doha 2006 Asian Games.
  • First person from the Indian sub-continent to swim under 50sec in the 100m Freestyle and 1min 50sec in the 200m Freestyle.

For those who missed all the action, here is a glimpse.

Virdhawal winning gold in the 50m Freestyle Finals

Virdhawal winning gold in the 100m Freestyle Finals

The only other Indian swimmer to win a medal was 16-year-old Aaron D’souza. Despite racing with boys a couple of years older to him he went on to win a bronze medal in the 200m Butterfly. Aaron came close to winning a medal on three other occasions; he finished 4th in the 100m Freestyle and 5th in the 100m Butterfly and 200m Freestyle. Aaron’s biggest improvements came in the freestyle events. His results are as follows:

50m Butterfly – 25.93sec

100m Butterfly – 56.60sec 5th

200m Butterfly – 2min 03.43sec Bronze

100m Freestyle – 51.52sec 4th

200m Freestyle – 1min 53.22sec 5th

18-year-old J. Agnishwar made it to the finals in all the events he swam. He finished 4th in the 200m IM, 6th in the 50 and 200m Breaststroke and 8th in the 100m Breaststroke. He swam personal bests in all his events.

In comparison, the performance from the girls was disappointing and the only ones to make the finals were: Pooja Alva (6th and 8th in the 100 and 200m Butterfly respectively), Fariha Zaman (7th in the 50m Backstroke) and Arahata Magavi (8th in the 50m Butterfly).

The Indian team consisted of:

Boys: Virdhawal Khade, Aaron D’Souza, N.A. Sandeep, Nishit Shah, Praveen Tokas, Ashwin Menon, J.P. Agnishwar, Jashan Deep Singh, Aditya Sangvekar and A.P. Gagan.

Girls: Fariah Zaman, Arhatha Magavi, Pooja R. Alva, Talasha Prabhu, Kshipra Mahajan, Heta Dave, M.M. Venbha, Aarti Ghorpade, Lekha Kamath, Poorva Shetty and Krunal Bhosale.

Click here to get the entire results.