Manish Rawat wins inaugural 35km race walk gold

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Ranchi, Feb 14 (PTI) Olympian Manish Rawat of Uttarakhand won the inaugural men's 35km event on the second and final day of the National Open Race Walking Championships here on Sunday.

Rawat beat Tamil Nadu's Ganapati Krishnan by a comfortable nine-minute margin as he clocked 2:49:12 which was, however, well outside the 2:35:00 qualifying standard for next year's World Athletics Championships.

The 35km race walk event was being staged in India for the first time in the wake of the World Athletics decision to do away with the 50km race walk after the Tokyo Olympics.

The 29-year-old Rawat kept Ganapati Krishnan’s company for a good part of the first 15km but started pulling away gradually to eventually win the competition.

The women’s 35km race walk event was not held due to lack of entries.

Punjab’s 36-year-old Gurpreet Singh won the men’s 50km race walk event with a personal best time of 3 hours 59 minutes 42 seconds. He became the fifth Indian to break the 4-hour mark over the distance.

Gurpreet's time was, however, more than nine minutes out side the Tokyo Olympics qualifying mark of 3:50:00.

Ram Baboo of Uttar Pradesh was second in 4:05:10 while Sagar Joshi of Gujarat was third in 4:12:06.

The men's Under-20 10km race walk event was won by Vishvendra Singh of Madhya Pradesh in 42:14 while Paramjeet Singh Bishy of Uttarakhand (42:16) and Bajrangi Prajapati of Madhya Pradesh (44:16) were second and third respectively.

In the women's Under-20 10km event, Reshma Patel of Uttarakhand clocked 49:28 to win gold while Geeta Lohar of Rajasthan (49:57) and Munita Prajapati of Uttar Pradesh (51:30) took the silver and bronze respectively.

On Saturday, three Indian race walkers qualified for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics with Sandeep Kumar and Priyanka Goswami shattering national records in the men's and women's 20km events respectively.

The 34-year-old Sandeep, who was representing Haryana, clocked 1 hour 20 minutes and 16 seconds to win the men's 20km event while the 24-year-old Goswami of Uttar Pradesh emerged victorious in the corresponding women's event with a time of 1:28:45.

Another Haryana athlete, Rahul Kumar, who finished second in the men's 20km race walk event with a time of 1:20:26, also qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.

The Tokyo Olympics qualification time for men's and women's 20km race walk event are 1:21:00 and 1:31:00 respectively. A country can send a maximum of three athletes in an individual event.

With the three new entrants, the total number of Indian race walkers who have qualified for the Tokyo Games has swelled to five as K T Irfan (men's 20km) and Bhawana Jat (women's 20km) have already made the cut earlier.

Sandeep, Rahul and Goswami also qualified for the 2022 World Athletics Championships to be held in Eugene, in the USA.

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. PTI PDS PDS AT AT