Bangalore (Karnataka) [India], March 30 (ANI): Tokyo 2020 Olympian Maana Patel said she aims to perform well in the Asian Games qualifiers and qualify for the multi-nation continental sporting event with a faster time, adding that she she has been feeling at her strongest physically and mentally in last couple of years.
In an exclusive interview with ANI, Maana talked about winning silver in Singapore National Age Group Championship this month, the pressure and responsibility of being an Olympian, preparation for Paris 2024 Olympics and Asian Games 2022, which will take place in China from September-October this year and much more.
"I believe in short-term goals and taking baby steps. My goal for this year is to perform well in Asian Games qualifiers so that I can enter Asian Games with a faster-time. This is the strongest I have felt physically and mentally in the last couple of years. There is a lot of scope for improvement. I am ready to give my 100 per cent this year," Maana told ANI.
On how the postponement of Asian Games due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the pandemic itself affected her preparation, Maana said the circumstances then was not under anyone's control.
"One has to look at the brighter side. Of course, there was disappointment that you have to start all over again from zero, reschedule your training and re-strategise everything. But I took everything in a positive stride and was happy to have that extra bit of time in my hands," said the Olympian.
On her silver win in 50 m and 100 m backstroke senior category at the 53rd Singapore National Age Group Championship held from March 14-19 in Singapore, Maana said winning silver was not her goal, rather, it was to know where she stood in terms of her timing at the start of the season so that she could make necessary adjustments to her race and training accordingly.
On her training regime, Manna said she does it through training blocks.
"We have six weeks of training blocks. We train as per the training block before a competition. The gym and pool training varies, as per the goal and the time that we wish to achieve. The Singapore race was the first competition we trained for. We did not rest or do tapering either. I wanted to see where I stood. I have my main competition in June-July and wanted to see what I could add to my training and improve so that I can peak in June-July. I have recently introduced new training methods in the gym and want to see how well it goes and what else we can do, going forward," added the swimmer.
On pressure and responsibilities that come with the 'Olympian' tag, the only woman to represent India at Tokyo 2020 Olympics, said, "In Tokyo, I was the only girl with two boys. Olympics is the pinnacle when it comes to multilateral sporting events. It is a dream for any athlete to represent the country at the Olympics. It was surreal to race with the best swimmers in the world. There is pressure and I succumbed to it on race day as I could not perform as per my expectations. However, you learn how to deal with pressure when you have been at the biggest stage. The tag of Olympian does not come easily. It comes with lots of responsibilities, one of which is to inspire the next generation and imparting the values she imbibed while participating at the Olympics."On support from the government and other agencies, Manna said, "The government has supported me from the start. I represent Gujarat at the national level and the Gujarat government has been proactive in supporting athletes since 2013. I am grateful for all the support I have received. The Centre has also taken a lot of steps, such as organising the 'Khelo India' and encouraging people to take up sports. They are doing a great job. I have also partnered with ENGN, which has been covering my additional expenses and promoting me as a brand. Their model of supporting woman athletes is one of a kind." (ANI)