A 13-member Indian team, minus the country’s best swimmers, left for Dubai on Tuesday for the ninth Asian Championships to be held from November 15 to 18.
Gagan Ullalmath, the surprise and lone Indian entry in the London Olympics, is among the nine men and four women who will take part in individual events besides the relay.
The diving and water polo competitions will be held from November 22-25 and November 19-25, respectively, for which the Indian teams will leave in the next few days.
Head coach S Pradeep Kumar, who is not accompanying the team, said that the swimmers had a fruitful camp in Bangalore under the guidance of Satish Suri, who is travelling with the team.
Also part of the camp initially was Delhi’s Richa Mishra. However, she was told to leave the camp midway after it was found that she and 10 other athletes failed doping tests conducted in 2010. “Richa left the camp immediately after instructions from SAI to send her out for failing the doping tests,” Kumar told DNA on Tuesday.
Two other swimmers who were part of the 11 caught for doping are Amar Muralidharan and Jyotsna Pansare. CEO of Swimming Federation of India Virender Nanavati said from Ahmedabad that while SFI acted on Richa according to the instructions from SAI, Jyotsna and Amar were not part of any of SFI camps or any official camps.
Meanwhile, Kumar said that the Indian swimmers, who claimed seven medals (one individual silver, five individual bronze and a relay bronze) in the previous edition in Foshan, China, in 2009, will have their task cut out. “Asian meet is a prestigious event and the best of Asia will be there,” Kumar said. Regarding India’s chances, he said, “we have to see who all are coming from other nations. Normally, the best of Asia participate.”
The medal winners in the previous edition — Virdhawal Khade, Sandeep Sejwal, Aaron D’Souza and Rehan Poncha — are skipping the meet as they are giving themselves rest to return fresh early next year.