Jakarta: Eight days short of his 27th birthday, Virdhawal Khade missed joining the two-man league of Indian swimmers with Asian Games medal when he missed the Men’s 50m freestyle bronze medal by one-hundredth of a second.
It was rare to see an Indian swimmer come so close to win a medal at this level of competition and for once it seemed Khade was closing in to break the jinx, but it was not to be.
As Indian fans lustily cheered the shaven-headed Khade in the charged up arena, he tried his best. In the last 10 metres, Khade’s mind willed him on, but the leg beat and arm sync was not strong enough to win bronze.
The gap between him and the bronze medallist was just 1/100th of a second. The Indian looked longingly at the electronic scoreboard to flash the result, but he had missed bronze.
Two Indians who have attained the elusive glory at the swimming pool in the Asian Games before are Khazan Singh Tokas, in 1986 Seoul Games and Sandeep Sejwal in 2010 Guangzhou.
Khade, who bettered his long-standing national record (22.43 sec) in the heats earlier in the day, clocked 22.47 seconds to finish fourth. China’s Yu Hexin (22.11), Japanese swimmers Katsumi Nakamaura (22.20) and Nakao Shunichi (22.46) bagged gold, silver and bronze medals, respectively. He had set 22.52 as his own best in August 2009 at Asian Age Group Swimming Championships in Japan.
This was the best he could do on Tuesday, at the GBK Aquatic Centre, but he felt disappointed for missing a medal by fraction of seconds. Khade was off the block on time, but couldn’t touch the finish line ahead of the top three.
“It’s like 100m dash where you hardly get time to think about. The only thing in my mind was to put my best foot forward, but unfortunately it didn’t work my way,” Khade said. Obviously, it’s a great achievement for Khade, who returned to spot after 10 years and that too only before this year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, where he clocked 23.11.
“There was no swimming pool at Malwa in Maharashtra so I could do no training when I was posted there. I started training again when I came back to Mumbai. If I had enough time to train, I could have certainly won a medal today,” said Khade, a revenue inspector with Maharashtra Government.
The 26-year-old was the youngest ever Indian swimmer to qualify for the Olympics in 2008 in Beijing. Although he did not qualify for the semi-finals of the 100m freestyle in Beijing, Khade set an Indian national record of 50.07 seconds during the heat.
Earlier, the day other India swimmer Anshul Kothari could not qualify for the final as he finished 28th with a timing of 23.83 though he was fastest in Heat 1.