India’s top racewalkers look to secure World Championships qualification at Chennai
15 FEBRUARY 2019
CHENNAI. India’s top racewalkers will get their first opportunity to compete inside the qualification period for the 2020 Olympics when they take part at the 6th Open Race walking championships to be held on the 16th and 17th of February in Chennai. While the qualification standard will only be published on 1st November 2019, the results of competition between 1 January 2019 to 29 June 2020 will be eligible for consideration.
The competition will also give Indian race walkers another chance to secure qualification for the 2019 World Championships to be held in Doha in September this year. The qualification standard in the men’s 20km race walk stands at 1.22.30 seconds, while the mark in the men’s 50km race is 3.59.00 seconds. The qualification standard in the women’s 20km race is set at 1.33.30 seconds.
With plenty on the line, the biggest names in Indian racewalking like 2012 Olympian KT Irfan, Eknath Sambhaji, 2016 Olympian Manish Singh Rawat, Sandeep Kumar, Shanti Kumari , and Soumya Baby are all expected to participate. On the international front, it will see participation from athletes from Malaysia and Chinese Taipei who will be competing in the men’s and women’s 20km races.
Only a few athletes have managed to meet the IAAF standards for the World Championships so far. Among the men only Manish Rawat has met the qualification standard for the World Championships. The 28-year-old from Uttarakhand, who finished 13th at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro clocked a time of 1.22.22 en route a sixth place finish at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast in April last year.
No Indian has been able to meet the qualification standard in the 50km walk, with the nearest mark been set by Sandeep Kumar who clocked a time of 3.59.28 at Taicang last year.
Soumya Baby was the closest to the mark among the women having clocked a time of 1.33.54 at the World Race Walking Championships in Taicang, China in May last year. Baby has completed the race even faster as her national record of 1.31.29 seconds suggests.
But that mark was set at the national racewalking championships in New Delhi in February of 2018 and out of the qualification period for the 2019 World Championships. Rawat too has a personal best of 1.20.26 while Sandeep Kumar holds the national record with a time of 126.96.36.199. In fact there were several athletes who recorded times inside the qualification standards at the 2018 National Championships who will now hope to replicate those results at the Open Race Walking Championships over the next couple of days.