Long-distance runner Kartik Kumar continued to improve on his timing by smashing the meet record at the National Inter-State Athletics Championships and achieved the Asian Games qualification mark for the 10,000m event here at the Kalinga Stadium on Thursday.
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While Kartik took gold with a timing of 29:01.84, he was joined by statemate Gulveer Singh from Uttar Pradesh, Pritam Kumar (Delhi) and Harman Jot Singh (Madhya Pradesh), who all bettered the Hangzhou Games qualification time set by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI). The AFI will pick the top two athletes for the event.
Kartik, who has had a strong last 12 months, achieved further recognition when he matched steeplechase national record holder Avinash Sable’s timing at the Delhi Marathon. The 24-year-old said racing against Sable was crucial for his development. “You learn a lot from seniors. He told me to focus more on practice and rest less,” said Kartik.
In what was the first of the four finals on the morning of the opening day, the athletes complained of humidity which was over 80 per cent, thereby hindering their performances.
Playing catch up through the race, Kartik stepped on the gas in the final kilometre to take the lead and see out till the finish line.
Bhawana Jat, who took gold with a timing of 1:37:03 in the 20km race walk ahead of Commonwealth Games silver medallist Priyanka Goswami, said, “Considering the weather, I think it’s good timing. There was a fear of over-exerting in this heat and risk getting injured.” Bhawana has already sealed her Asian Games spot.
Veteran Sandeep Kumar expectantly finished first in the men’s 20km race walk but failed to finish under the Asian Games qualification mark.
In the women’s 10,000m, 22-year-old Seema upset Sanjivani Jadha to take gold but fell short of her personal best timing and the Asiad qualification mark. Poonam Dinkar claimed bronze for her first senior-level medal.
In the women’s 100m heats, Jyothi Yarraji led the way with a timing of 11.65s followed by Himanshree Roy and Srabani Nanda at 11.79s.
While Anjali Devi (52.89s) and Vithya Ramraj (52.97s) qualified for the women’s 400m semifinals with strong timings in the heats, Asian U20 gold medallist Heena Rezoana Mallick also made the semis with a timing of 55.20s. The Asian Games qualification mark is set at 52.96s.
In the men’s 400m heats, Kerala’s Muhammed Anas Yahiya clocked a time of 46.48s, while Muhammed Ajmal came first in heats with a timing of 46.80s. Arokia Rajiv and Amoj Jacob have also qualified for the semifinals.
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