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Olympics Athletics: Indians disappoint in 20km race walk

Source: PTI
Last updated on: August 05, 2021 16:18 IST
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Sandeep finishes 23rd, Irfan and Rahul 47th and 51st.

Massimo Stano of Team Italy, Toshikazu Yamanishi of Team Japan and Sandeep Kumar of Team India lead the field during the Men's 20km Race Walk at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Sapporo Odori Park in Sapporo, on Thursday

IMAGE: Italy's Massimo Stano, Japan's Toshikazu Yamanishi and India's Sandeep Kumar lead the field during the men's 20km Race Walk at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at Sapporo Odori Park, on Thursday. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

National record holder Sandeep Kumar was going strong in second place till near the halfway mark but faded later and finished 23rd with a below-par timing in the men's 20km Race Walk at the Olympics, in Tokyo, on Thursday.


The 35-year-old Kumar crossed the finish line in 1 hour 25 minutes and 7 seconds, well outside his National record time of 1:20:16s, which he set in February during the National Open Race Walk Championships in Ranchi to qualify for the Olympics.   

His compatriots, Rahul Rohilla (1:32:06s) and K T Irfan (1:34:41s) brought up the rear at 47th and 51st with disappointing performances under hot and humid conditions.

Fifty-seven athletes started in the competition and 52 completed the race. Five were either disqualified or DNF (Did Not Finish).

Italian Massimo Stano won gold in 1:21:05, while the Japanese pair of Ikeda Koki (1:21:28) and Yamanishi Toshikazu (1:21:46) took the silver and bronze respectively.   

Kumar, who shifted from the 50km Walk to 20km, as it is no longer an Olympic event, was hot on the heels of 2018 Asian Games gold medallist Kaihua Wang of China till the 8km mark as the duo took initial lead.

But slowly Kumar dropped back to be with the chasing pack. He also got his second warning around that time.

Kumar had taken part in 50km race walk in 2016 Olympics -- where he finished 35th -- but the event will no longer feature in the Games as it is tough for women to compete in it and gender parity has become the norm in global competitions.

For the 31-year-old Irfan, it has been a downward journey in the last few years. He also competed in the 2012 London Olympics where he finished a creditable 10th with a time of 1:20:21 (then National record).

He was the first track and field athlete to qualify for the Olympics way back in March 2019 but he was one of the two athletes on the verge of being left out of the Tokyo Olympics team on account of dip in form. 

His performance during a fitness trial on July 9 was below par but the AFI cleared him, along with long jumper M Sreeshankar, on the ground that it was not a performance trial.

His last competition before Thursday's event was during the National Race Walking Championships in March, where he did not finish the race.



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