The Indian men’s 20km squad for the World Athletics Race Walk Team Challenge, scheduled to be held in Oman from March 4-5, will be a blend of youth and experience.
Army’s two-time Olympian and seasoned race walker Sandeep Kumar dominated the men’s 15km fitness trials on Saturday at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Training Center in Bengaluru.
Promising 20-year-old Suraj Panwar of Uttarakhand, who recently graduated to the senior level, finished second behind the 35-year-old Kumar.
Since it was a fitness trial, Kumar didn’t want to push hard. The Army athlete unofficially clocked 60 minutes for the 15km distance.
“I’m satisfied with my weekend performance,” Kumar told Sportskeeda over the phone.
Paramjeet Bisht, another youngster from Uttarakhand, was third while Army’s Devender Singh was fourth.
The top four athletes during fitness trials over 15km are expected to find a place in the national squad, as per a senior coach familiar with the selection criteria of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI).
India’s world U20 silver medalist Amit Khatri, meanwhile, emerged winner in the junior men’s category, where the distance of the fitness trial was 5km. Aditya Negi finished second while Anshul Dhaundiyal and Gajender Negi were third and fourth, respectively.
Army athletes showcased their potential in the men’s 25km fitness trials. Ram Baboo, Chandan Singh and Eknath finished in that order and will compete in men’s 35km race.
Uttar Pradesh’s 25-year-old international race walker Priyanka Goswami was the clear winner in the women’s 25km fitness trials. Punjab’s Ramandeep Kaur was second while Manju Rani and Priyanka Patel were third and fourth, respectively.
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The National Racewalk Championships, scheduled to be held earlier this month in Ranchi, was postponed due to the pandemic. The AFI thus conducted trials in senior and junior categories to select the Indian team for next month’s international competition in Oman.