Nethra Kumanan on Wednesday became the first Indian woman sailor to qualify for the Olympics after she was assured of a top-place finish in the laser radial event of the Asian Qualifiers in Oman. The 23-year-old Kumanan has a 21-point advantage over her nearest rival, who also happens to be an Indian — Ramya Saravanan — in the Laser Radial Class event with one race to go on Thursday.
Chennai-based Kumanan currently has 18 points while Saravanan has 39 on the penultimate day of competitions in Mussanah Open Championship, which is a joint Asian and African Olympic qualifying event.
In sailing, the athlete who has the least points wins the competition. The final race on Thursday is a 20 pointer and Kumanan has already sealed it with one round to go. Laser Radial is a singlehanded boat, which means that it is sailed by only one person.
“Yes, Kumanan has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics with one race to go on the final day on Thursday,” Asian Sailing Federation President Malav Shroff told PTI. “The final race is a 20 pointer but the point gap with her nearest Asian rival, also an Indian, is more than 20,” said Shroff who himself represented India in Olympic sailing event in the 2004 Athens Games.
Kumanan will be the 10th Indian to qualify for a sailing event in the Olympics, but all the earlier nine have been male athletes.