Wuhan, Oct 26 : India's springboard diver Ramananda Sharma and his synchronized partner Siddharth Pardeshi have already made sporting history once for his country when, in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 2018, they became the first Indian divers to compete at the Asian Games in 34 years.
Now they are building on that international experience at the 7th CISM Military World Games in Wuhan on their quest to become the first Indian divers in 55 years to qualify for the Olympic Games.
"Our practices are targeting the road to [Tokyo] 2020," Sharma said. "I feel like I have to do better and I have to prove to myself and to others that India can do better than other countries."
While divers from China, DPR Korea and Malaysia are regularly among the medal favorites at major international competitions, the world's second-most populous country has been largely absent on the diving stage for several decades.
That is changing as the Indian diving team has undertaken a rigorous training regime under Cuban coach Yoendris Salazar. The Sydney 2000 Olympics semifinalist on the men's 3m springboard has coached the Asian country's national diving team on and off since 2008.
Sharma and his teammates train for eight hours a day on Thursday and Friday, take training half day on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, while Sunday is off for a day.
"We just practise, eat, and then rest. Nothing else," Sharma said.
A knee injury has kept Sharma, who has been diving since he was six, out of training for three months and he only returned to the pool four weeks before the start of the diving competition at Wuhan military games, where he is competing in three events. The 22-year-old finished 12th in the men's 1m springboard, 10th in the 3m individual and will compete in 3m synchronized event on Sunday.
"I tried to seize the medal, but I was injured for three months so I could not do better here," Shara said of his dives on the 1m springboard, which is not included in the Olympic program. "I am happy with my performance. Already this competition was better than how I dived at the Asian Games."
Sharma expects to find out at a World Cup event in April 2020 whether he and Pardeshi can manage to qualify for the Tokyo 2020.
"We think of each competition as if it's our last one and we motivate ourselves this way," Sharma said. "We just need to focus on our own dives and perform them, and have a little bit of luck too."(XINHUA)