Nethra Kumanan, the first sailor from India to qualify for Olympics
Yesterday Indian sailor Nethra Kumanan made history as she booked her seat for the Tokyo Olympics, which made her first Indian woman to do so. The event she had qualified for is the laser radial event in the Mussanah Open championship, which was an Asian and African Olympics qualifying event.
She is the 10th Indian to qualify for the sailing event but what makes her different is that all the previous nine qualifiers were male athletes. Another difference is that she had qualified for the mega event by a direct quota place by topping a qualifier while all the other qualifiers had filled the position by getting nominated for quota places.
On Wednesday, the Indian athlete had already taken an unassailable lead in the Laser radial event. Her Olympic qualification retained just a formality after her 21-point lead over the chasing pack. The event continued till Thursday and her name was finalised. Laser radial is one of the sailing events that involves only one person who handles the boat.
But to the surprise of many, she is not just a terrific sailor but also a dancer. The 22-year-old Chennai based engineering student is a trained dancer, singer and proficient painter as well. The multi talented athlete finished second behind Emma Charlotte Jeanne Savelon of the Netherlands.
She pursued engineering from SRM college Chennai. Last time she represented India was at the 2014 and 2018 Asian Games in Incheon and Jakarta respectively. Even in 2020, she became the first indian woman to win a world cup medal in Sailing with a bronze medal at the 2020 Sailing World cup in Miami.
Nehra exclusively talked to the Indian express where she shared her disappointment of missing out on a gold medal. “I could have done better and chased (Emma) her but I lost out due to some errors that I could not rectify. I am really happy about earning an Olympic berth.” She also added that she hopes that her journey and achievements inspire other women to take up sailing.
It was not just a memorable tournament for the newly crowned Tokyo Olympian but also for the whole Indian sailing contingent as there were three others who qualified for the Olympics. Vishnu Saravanan and the pair of Ganapathy Chengappa and Varun Thakkar also qualified for the event.