Ranchi, February 13: Six Race Walking National Record holders will headline entries in the 10th National Open Race Walking Championships to be held on the Morabadi Road here tomorrow and on Wednesday. The six races, to be held across two days, have drawn as many as 209 entries, including 56 from women.
Ram Baboo hold the men’s 35km National Record, Sandeep Kumar the men’s 20km and Amit Khatri the Men U20 10km. The last named, of course, is competing in the 20km race. Similarly, Ramandeep Kaur (women’s 35km), Priyanka Goswami (women’s 20km) and Reshma Patel (women’s U20 10km) feature in the competition. Reshma is now competing in the senior ranks.
Veteran Sandeep Kumar (Haryana), who will look to win the men’s 20km title for the fourth time in-a-row, will be the man to beat. Amit Khatri will be hoping to not only be ahead of Akshdeep Singh (Punjab) and Paramjeet Singh Bisht (Uttarakhand) and be on the podium this time but also mount a challenge to the senior Haryana athlete.
Priyanka Goswami (Uttar Pradesh), who did not finish the 20km race here in April last will be eager to regain the National crown. Her competition with Bhawna Jat (Rajasthan) will be interesting to watch, though she leads 7-3 in head-to-head meetings in the 20km event since they first squared up in 2017.
Ram Baboo (Uttar Pradesh) and defending champion Juned Khand (Haryana) have been in the forefront of the men’s 35km race walk scene in India and can be expected to feature prominently in the battle for honours.
Last year’s winner Ravina and bronze medalist Sonal Sukhwal are competing in the 35km race. Their presence along with that of defending champion Ramandeep Kaur (Punjab) and other medalists from last year, Manju (Punjab) and Payal (Uttarakhand), can make for a very competitive event.
The race walkers will want to attain qualifying standards for the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 to be held in the Hungarian capital in August this year. Only Priyanka Goswami has ever clocked a time that is better than the qualifying standard laid down by World Athletics, but she set the National Record two years ago.
The World Championships qualifying standards for men’s 20km and 35km are 1:20:10 and 2:29:40 respectively. The qualifying marks for women are set at 1:29:20 (20km) and 2:51:30 (35km).