Muscat, March 5: Eknath Sambhaji Turambekar and Priyanka Goswami set new National Records in the men and women’s 35km events in the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships Muscat22 on Saturday. They finished 27th and 20th respectively in hot conditions that added to the challenge of the 2km loop near the Oman Convention Centre.
Later, 35-year-old Sandeep Kumar secured a creditable 13th-place finish in the men’s 20km, clocking 1:26:45. Despite a two-minute penalty being added to his time for getting a third red card on the home stretch and sliding seven positions, it is his best placing in a World Athletics race, improving on the 20th place in the 50km in the World Race Walking Cup in 2014. Youngster Suraj Panwar finished 25th in a personal best time of 1:28:18.
Coming in the wake of the bronze medal won by the Indian team in the women’s 20km event on Friday, the two National Record efforts and Sandeep Kumar’s good show in the last event are positives. They are a justification of the Athletics Federation of India’s decision to continue backing the race walking squad to train in the National Camp.
Competing in only his second race over the distance, Eknath Sambhaji Turambekar clocked 2:45:17 while Priyanka Goswami’s 3:13:19 came in her maiden appearance in a 35km event. The previous National Records were set by Ram Baboo (2:46:31) and Ramandeep Kaur (3:15:17) respectively in the National Open Championships in Warangal in September 2021.
Priyanka Goswami, 17th in the 20km event in Tokyo2020, set a scorching pace early in the race, leading through 16-1/2km. But by the time she had completed 17km in 1:23:21, the tiring Indian conceded the lead. In rising heat, the second half of the race challenged her to stay on course. She showed resilience in completing the distance.
Priyanka Goswami, 25, and the 24-year-old Eknath Sambhaji Turambekar would both have been mindful that they had been given one red card each. On a day on which as many as 14 men either did not finish the distance or were disqualified, Chandan Singh (2:51:40) and Ram Baboo (3:07:14) drew no cards as they finished 38th and 46th respectively.