Three Indian race walkers including Asian Games silver medallist Khushbir Kaur earned berths for the 2016 Rio Olympics after putting up a commendable show at the IAAF Race Walking Challenge held in Rio Maior, Portugal on Sunday. Apart from Kaur, the other two Indians who qualified were Manish Rawat and Sandeep Kumar in the men’s 20km walk.
Khushbir Kaur finishes 13th
One of India’s brightest hopes in race walking – Khushbir Kaur clocked 1:33:58 at the meet which was way better than the qualification criterion of 1:35. The timing gave the National women’s 20km walk record holder a 13th place finish.
Manish Rawat 10th, Sandeep Kumar 14th
Manish Rawat had an even better outing at the men’s 20km race walk. Rawat finished 10th with a personal best timing of 1:22:50. The result earned him a Rio Olympics berth as the qualification time was set at 1:24.
Sandeep Kumar too managed to qualify for Rio with a timing of 1:23:32. The National 50km race walk record holder ended 14th.
Devender, Ganapathi miss out
However, Devender Singh and Ganapathi Krishnan missed out on qualification spots. While Devender clocked 1:24:57 to finish 18th, Ganapathi could produce a timing of 1:27:05 that gave him a 30th place.
Indian race walkers training in Portugal since April 1
Indian race walkers have been in Portugal since April 1 for a 90-day training-cum-competition programme. The main objective of this training stint is to grab qualification spots for Rio Olympics.
Head Coach-walk Alexander Artsybashev had expressed confidence about the Indian race walkers before departing for Portugal.
“This training-cum-competition programme was on (the) anvil since November and I’m confident that our race walkers will grab this opportunity with both hands and further improve their timings.”
Another important upcoming event for the Indians is the GP Cantones LA Coruna-IAAF World Race Challenge to be held on June 6.