Indian women's team wins historic bronze at World Race Walking Team Championships

Bhawna Jat, Ravina and Munita Prajapati won the country's maiden women's 20km team medal, a bronze, at the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships in Muscat on Friday.

From left to right: The race walking trio of Ravina, Bhawna Jat, and Munita Prajapati scripted history by winning the country's maiden women's 20km team medal, a bronze, at the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships in Muscat on Friday.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The race walking trio of Bhawna Jat, Ravina and Munita Prajapati scripted history by winning the country's maiden women's 20km team medal, a bronze, at the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships in Muscat on Friday.

China and Greece won the gold and silver respectively.

Ravina produced the best finish by an Indian in the women's 20km event at 14th spot with a time of one hour 40 minutes 22 seconds.

The experienced Bhawna Jat, a Tokyo Olympian, was 21st with a time of 1:43:08 and 20-year-old Munita Prajapati finished 26th in 1:45:03.

The team medals are decided after taking into account the overall performance of the competing athletes of a country.

"The hard work that we put in at the national camp has paid off," Jat said after the historic medal.

This was the Indian women's team's first medal in the 61-year history of the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships.

The men's team had already won a medal -- also a bronze -- in 2012.

Earlier in the day, Amit Khatri led the field at the final kilometer but was disqualified after receiving his fourth red card during the U-20 men's 10km event.

Khatri was leading the field when he was disqualified but he would not have won the gold even if he had crossed the finish line first as he was handed a 60-minute penalty after his third red card.

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He would certainly have been in the top 10 had he not received his fourth red card -- which resulted in his disqualification.

The 18-year-old Khatri, who had won a silver in the 10000m race walk event at the World Athletics U-20 Championships in Nairobi six months ago, was at 11th position at the halfway mark but he gradually pulled himself up to lead the pack after the 9km mark.

Lying third behind two Chinese walkers at the start of the final kilometer, Khatri stepped up the pace and shot into the lead. However, he also picked up three red cards in addition to the one shown to him earlier, according to Athletics Federation of India.

But in the end, Khatri was pulled in to the penalty zone by the referee as the Indian threw up his hands on his head in disappointment.

"It left him gutted, disbelief that he was so close to winning a second medal on the world stage in six months but was left with a disqualification," the AFI said in a release.

"If he had only three red cards in the race, Amit would have earned a top five finish with a one-minute stay in the penalty zone."

Wang Hongren of China won the event in 44 minutes and six seconds while Italy's Diego Giampaolo (44:14s) and another Chinese Zeng Yu (44:14s) grabbed the silver and bronze medals respectively.

The finishing times were well short of personal best for a lot of athletes but the conditions were tough and tested everyone.

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A medal prospect, the 18-year-old Khatri had won a silver in the 10000m race walk event at the World Athletics U-20 Championships in Nairobi six months ago.

He has a personal best of 40 minutes 28 seconds in Ranchi two years ago.

Reshma Patel finished 23rd in the U-20 women's 10km event in 53 minutes 10 seconds after doing well to stay with the leaders over the first 4km.

The two yellow paddles from judges in the third kilometer did not slow her down but the leaders pulled away from her after she got the first of her red cards just before the halfway mark.

The 17-year-old from Dehradun dropped more positions even before she was given a one-minute stop at the penalty zone for having drawn her third red card at the ninth kilometer mark.

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