Olympian Gurmeet Singh established himself at the top in the men’s 20km event on the opening day of the two-day National race walking championships at Patiala.
On his way to gold, the Railway athlete covered the distance in 1:21.17 seconds, indicating that he is ready for more strenuous Asian race walking championships to be held in Japan on March 10.
Another international athlete, Babubhai Panocha, wasn’t too impressive in the season-opening race, as he was pushed to third spot by Chandan Singh of Uttarakhand.
Chandan finished second at 1:23.28, while Babubai crossed the finish line in 1:24.01.
Of the 30 athletes, little-known Ganapathi of Army was the most impressive, finishing sixth with a time of 1:24.32. His performance was nearly 10 minutes better than his previous best of 1:34.
India’s leading walker KT Irfan, who has already achieved the world ‘A’ qualification mark of 1:24.00, skipped the event.
The national event, said Irfan’s coach Gurdev Singh, was not on the menu as Irfan had already achieved the ‘A’ qualification mark (1:24.00) for the world meet.
Gurmeet too has achieved ‘A’ qualification mark, but he decided to compete. The women’s 20k and men’s 50k events will be held on Friday.