Three seal place in Tokyo Olympics race walking squad
Two men from Haryana and an Uttar Pradesh woman qualified for this year’s Tokyo Olympics in the race walking event on Saturday after they sealed top slots in the 20km category.
They sealed the spots on Day 1 of the two-day 8th National Open and 4th International Race Walking Championship at Ranchi’s Morabadi ground.
Two out of the three athletes also set new national records with their unmatched timing.
Jharkhand Athletics Association president Madhukant Pathak also said that the trio — Sandeep Kumar and Rahul Kumar of Haryana, and Priyanka Goswami of Uttar Pradesh have also qualified for the 2022 World Athletics Championship slated to be held in the US.
“Both male athletes are from the Army Sports Institute. They took the number of Indian race walkers who have made the grade to five, joining top notch KT Irfan and Bhawana Jat,” informed a statement from Athletics Federation of India (AFI).
Sandeep Kumar (34), who had competed in the 50km Race Walk in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, also set a new national record in 20km walk on Saturday by clinching the walk in 1:20:16. The old national record was held by KT Irfan in London, 2012. Rahul Kumar finished second in the 20km category by striking a timing of 1:24:41.
“I am happy to have succeeded this time for the Olympics after missing the chance last year. I was also the champion in the meet held in Ranchi last time by clocking 1:21:34 but fell short of the Olympic qualifying standard of 1:21:00. Now, I am tension free and can concentrate to improve my timing to win medals for the country,” said Sandeep.
Priyanka Goswami (24), who came second to top seeder Bhawana Jat last year, came first with her timing of 1:28:45, also breaking the 2018 national record of 1:31:29 by Baby Sowmya in Delhi.
“I was determined this time to register my berth for the Olympics. I am happy to have succeeded this time,” said the Meerut-based athlete, who is a railway employee.