Four years ago, Sandeep Kumar stamped his dominance in the 50km race walk with a new national record that still stands. On Saturday, the 34-year old added the 20km to his kitty, winning the 8th National/4th International Race Walking Championships in Ranchi with a new National Record that also saw him qualify for the Tokyo Olympics and the World Championships next year.
The National Open Race Walking Championships are the first major athletics event after the end of a COVID-19 lockdown, which had caused the entire domestic calendar to be wiped out last season.
Sandeep completed the course in one hour, 20 minutes and 16 seconds, five seconds quicker than KT Irfan’s London Olympics and Devender Singh’s Asian Championships mark. With his timing, the Haryana Armyman also qualified for the World Race Walking Championships next year.
Second-placed Rahul, who finished in 1:20:26, also qualified for both Olympics and Worlds. The qualification time for both events for men is 1:21:00. Irfan, who has already qualified for the Olympics, did not finish the race.
Among women, 24-year old Priyanka Goswami from Uttar Pradesh also set a new national record and qualified for both Olympics and the Worlds with a timing of 1:28:45, more than a minute quicker than erstwhile holder and runner-up here Bhawana Jat. Bhawana, already qualified for Tokyo, finished in 1:32:59.
Besides the five race walkers, javelin throwers Neeraj Chopra and Shivpal Singh, 3000m steeplechaser Avinash Sable and the 4x400m mixed relay team have so far qualified for the Olympics in the track and field.
The Olympics are scheduled to be held in July-August this year.
(With inputs from PTI)
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