India will compete in more than one sailing event in an Olympics for the first time after Vishnu Saravanan on Thursday qualified for the Tokyo Games in Laser STD Class. He finished second in the Asian Qualifier event in Oman. Later in the day, the count went up to three events as KC Ganapathy-Varun Thakkar earned their spot in the 49er class event.
Nethra Kumanan on Wednesday became the first ever Indian woman sailor to qualify for the Games in Tokyo in the laser radial event at the Mussanah Open Championship, which is an Asian Olympic qualifying event.
Thus, in a historic achievement for India, four sailors from the country will compete at this year’s Olympics.
At the event in Oman, there was one Tokyo berth each for the 49er, 49erFX, RSX Men, RSX Women while there were two spots each for Laser Standard and Laser Radial (the events where the Indian sailors clinched their spot).
“Yes, history has been scripted. Four Indian sailors have qualified for Olympics to compete in three events. It’s the maximum number of sailors qualified and also in number of events,” Yachting Association of India joint secretary general Capt Jitendra Dixit told PTI.
“Nethra already qualified on Wednesday and today Vishnu and then the pair of Ganapathy and Varun made it.”
Saravanan, who was third till the penultimate day on Wednesday, won the medal race on Thursday to jump to second place overall and book a Tokyo Olympics quota.
The Indian pipped Thailand’s Keerati Bualong, who was second till Wednesday, for the Tokyo Games spot. Singapore’s Ryan Lo Jun Han was first overall in the Laser STD Class points table.
Two sailors qualify for the Olympics in the laser class events of the championships.
“Till Wednesday, Vishnu was third behind the Thai sailor though both were on same points. Today in the medal race, Vishnu finished first and so naturally he ended above the Thai sailor in points table,” Dixit said.
“Two sailors qualify for Olympics in laser class and Vishnu finished second. The Singapore sailor was well above Vishnu before today and so Vishnu could not dislodge him (from top position).”
Later, the duo of Ganapathy and Thakkar finished on top of the points table in the 49er Class. The duo had won a bronze medal in the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia. The Indians clinched gold as they finished on top for the fourth successive day at the event.
Two sailors make a team in the 49er Class while laser class is a single sailor event.
On Thursday, Nethra finished sixth in the laser radial class medal race but still ended at second overall with 30 points to confirm the Olympics spot. Dutch sailor Emma Savelon (29 points), who finished fourth in the medal race on Thursday, topped the standings but she can’t be considered for the Asian qualifying spot. Stephanie Norton of Hong Kong, who finished third overall, also qualified.
There were four instances of two Indian sailors qualifying for the Olympics earlier but they took part in the same event. This time in Tokyo, India will be taking part in more than one event in sailing.
The Indian pair of Farokh Tarapore and Dhruv Bhandari competed in the 470 class in the 1984 Olympics. Tarapore and Kelly Rao took part in the same event in the 1988 Games. Tarapore, in his third Olympics, and Cyrus Cama took part in the same 470 class in the 1992 Barcelona Games before Malav Shroff and Sumeet Patel competed in 49er class skiff in the 2004 Athens Olympics.
“I congratulate Indian athletes Nethra Kumanan, KC Ganapathy and Varun Thakkar who have qualified for Tokyo Olympic in sailing. I’m particularly proud of the quota of Nethra, who is India’s first-ever female sailor to qualify for the Olympics,” tweeted sports minister Kiren Rijiju.
(With PTI inputs)
49er Class: KC Ganapathy-Varun Thakkar (Gold, Tokyo spot)
Laser STD Class: Vishnu Saravanan (Silver, Tokyo spot)
Laser Radial Class: Nethra Kumanan (Silver, Tokyo spot)
RS: X Women Class: Ishwariya Ganesh (Bronze)
49er FX Class: Ekta Yadav-Ritika Dangi (Bronze)