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Netra Kumman became the first Indian woman sailor to qualify for the Olympics on Wednesday. He achieved this feat by topping the laser radial competition of the Asian Qualifiers in Oman. The twenty-three-year-old Netra Ledger had a 21-point lead over his nearest rival and compatriot Ramya Saravanan in the radial class event. A final race of this event will be held on Thursday. Netra of Chennai currently has 18 points in the Musanah Open Championship and Netra has 39 points which is a joint Asian and African Olympic qualifying competition. The player who has the fewest points in rowing wins the competition.

The final race to be held on Thursday is of 20 points and Netra confirmed her top spot a round early. The laser radial is a ‘singlehanded boat’ in which the driver drives the boat alone. “Yes, Netra has already qualified for the last day’s race for the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday,” said Malav Shraf, president of the Asian Sailing Federation.

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Shraf himself has represented India in the sailing event at the 2004 Athens Olympics, saying, “The final race will be 20 points but there is a difference of more than 20 points between their nearest Asian rivals.” She is also an Indian. ‘ Emma Charlotte Jean Savelon of the Netherlands is second ahead of India’s Ramya. There is a difference of three points between Netra and her but she cannot qualify for the Olympic qualification from this competition as it is an Asian qualifier.

Hungarian coach Tomas Esses of Netra said, “Netra qualified for the Olympics today, who are leading by a big margin, although officially the competition will end tomorrow after the final race, which is called the ‘medal race’.” He said, “There will be no change from the result of the medal race that it has achieved one of the two Olympic quota.”

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Overall 10th Indian
Netra would thus be the 10th Indian to qualify for the sailing event in the Olympics, but all nine of her sailors were men before her. Nachhatar Singh Johal (2008), Shroff and Sumit Patel (2004), F Tarapore and Cyrus Cama (1992), Kelli Rao (1988), Dhruv Bhandari (1984), Soli Contractor and AA Basit (1972) before sailing in the Olympics. There are Indians who qualify.

Shraf said that Netra is the only Indian to have won the quota directly by topping the qualifiers, while the nine Olympic yachts had earlier won the quota when the places were not filled. He said, ‘All nine sailors were nominated. I was ranked 21st and only 20 had to compete in the Olympics in my competition. I got a chance because someone was removed because I was the first on the ‘waiting’ list. ‘

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“Netra is the first Indian (male or female) to qualify directly by securing a quota place in the qualifiers,” said Shroff. He also said that two other Indians are also in the race for the Tokyo Olympic qualification on the last day on Thursday. One of them is Ganapathi Chengappa, who leads the 49th class in the table.

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