Virdhawal Khade, Sajan Prakash, Tokyo OlympicsVirdhawal Khade, a fish out of water
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At 28, Virdhawal Khade is talking retirement. For a life lived chasing times, he is helplessly watching time slip away.

India’s fastest swimmer hasn’t trained in a pool in months and is grappling with the prospect that his Tokyo Olympics dreams might die, that he will not be a two-time Olympian.

A fortnight ago, Khade tweeted  he was considering retirement if swimming pools continued to remain shut.

The scenario hasn’t changed amid the coronavirus sweep. “I don’t want to stay in this uncertain period of time for too long because I will just start getting frustrated, and I need to make a lot of decisions in my life,” he tells Sportstar .  

“It could be regarding my work or it could be regarding anything else. I don’t want to get stuck. I am somebody who always preferred having a clear picture. Normally, even when we swim we have a schedule of what competitions we are doing and what we are preparing for. As of now, there are no competitions and we can’t even get into the water. So I don’t know if and when we do get into the water and how I am going to feel and how long it would take me to get back into good shape. 

“Considering all these factors, it is a little frustrating and I am sure it is frustrating for all the other athletes as well… If we don’t start training and if this situation goes on for another month, there is a very good possibility that I might retire,” says the man who made it to the Beijing Olympics in 2008 at the age of 16.

Khade was the youngest Indian swimmer to make the Olympics. He missed the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. Then, he started resurrecting his swimming career .

At the 2019 National Swimming Championship in Bhopal, Khade achieved the B qualification mark for the Tokyo Olympics with a timing of 22.44 seconds in the 50m freestyle. The A qualification mark is 22.01 seconds. No Indian swimmer has ever achieved the A-mark. Khade had his eyes set on becoming the first.

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