Nethra Kumanan Secures Paris Olympics Berth After Last-Minute Surge

Nethra Kumanan Secures Paris Olympics Berth After Last-Minute Surge

Nethra Kumanan, India's lone female sailor with an Olympic berth, candidly reflects on her disappointing Asian Games performance, where she narrowly missed a podium finish and an Olympic quota. "It was a huge slap in the face," she admits.

Despite setbacks in several qualifying events, Nethra persevered and secured her Paris Games berth at the "last minute" of the Last Chance Regatta. Finishing among the top three sailors from the Emerging Nations Program (ENP) in the women's dinghy ILCA 6 in Hyeres, France, she earned her second Olympic appearance.

"It feels incredible," Nethra says. "It's mostly been a relief, because I've known I've been capable of this since last year."

For the Tokyo Games, Nethra qualified as the best Asian in the continental qualifying event. However, for Paris, she faced a series of disappointments in four qualifying events. The closest she came was at the second Worlds this year, where she was "two points away from making it."

The long road to qualification tested her patience and mental resolve. "It's been a lot of reflection, a lot of work," she says. "It's been hard dealing with it, but I'm happy I found a way."

The fourth-place finish at the Asian Games was particularly disheartening. With the help of her psychologist, Nethra delved into introspection. "I've always had to work hard on how to deal with my mind and stress," she says. "But at some point, I had to accept that this is the hand I've been dealt, and I had to deal with it."

Despite the setbacks, Nethra believes she is a more skilled and experienced sailor heading into Paris than she was in Tokyo, where she finished 35th. "I know I am capable of results in the top half at these Games," she says. "My level has certainly improved. I'm faster, a lot more experienced."

World Sailing's ENP program has been instrumental in her qualification quest, providing financial support and coaching assistance. Nethra also credits her training base in Gran Canaria and her Hungarian coach, Tamas Eszes.

With an additional French coach in Marseille, where the sailing events will be held at the Olympics, Nethra is confident in her preparation. "I feel like I will be better prepared for this Olympics than I was in Tokyo," she says. "I'll be training at the venue and have the inputs of a local coach."

Nethra's focus is now on performance rather than simply participating in the Olympics. "The first one was an incredible experience, and that's what I took from it," she says. "Now I know more of what to expect in terms of pressure and grandeur. I'll be focussed more on performance in Paris rather than just being at the Olympics."

Tags: #Sailing, #Olympics, #NethraKumanan, #AsianGames, #LastChanceRegatta

Read more