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Sandeep Kumar dominates 50km walk but misses Asian Games qualifying mark

Sandeep Kumar of Haryana failed to meet the Asian Games qualifying mark at the 10km race walk meet in New Delhi, but an extremely short course at the race hindered the athletes’ pace.

other sports Updated: Feb 17, 2018 17:49 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Sandeep Kumar,Indian race walk,race walk
Sandeep Kumar holds the national record of 3:55.59 secs in the 50km race walk and is now looking forward to the World Championships in China in May to achieve the qualifying mark for the Asian Games.(HT Photo)

Sandeep Kumar dominated the field to win the national 50km race walk here on Saturday, but missed the qualifying mark of three hours, 55 minutes for the Jakarta Asian Games to be held from August 18. Kumar’s winning time was 3:56:39.71.

The Services athlete representing Haryana said he could have easily achieved the qualifying mark had he faced some challenge. ‘’The competition wasn’t tough. It robbed me of a good time,” he said after the race.

Sandeep holds the national record of 3:55.59 secs, set last year in Delhi. He is looking forward to the World Championships in China in May to achieve his goal. “It will be a good opportunity to win the ticket to Indonesia,” he said.

Very short course

In a field of 22, only 10 were able to complete the gruelling 50km race, organised on a flat, 500m stretch behind the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium that the walkers had o keep lapping. The ultra-short course didn’t help those keen to go faster to dip under the Asian Games qualifying time. Besides Sandeep, only Jitendera Singh Rathore, who won silver in 3:58:55.82, came under four hours.

Olympian Ganapathi Krishnan, a 20km race walk specialist, who made his debut in the longer event, failed to finish, dropping out after the 35km mark. Another top international, Gurmeet Singh, who has also shifted to the longer event, was disqualified for ‘lifting’.

Lack of depth

Russian expert Alexander Artsybashev, overseeing the national camp, said “breaking the four-hour barrier comes through a lot of hard work and experience.”

Damen promising

Artybeshav said S Damen Singh, who finished third (4:00:34.48), gave a good account of himself on debut. “It was his first race over the distance. With more experience, he should be the one to watch,” he said.

India will enter only individuals for the 50km event at the May world championships with the Russian coach ruling out an entry for team honours citing lack of depth.

Last month, some top race walkers, including Sandeep Kumar, accused Artybeshav of neglecting them. The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) then shifted them to Patiala. The Russian coach said the athletes were not keen to work hard but instead blamed him saying he was discouraging them. “I was there to help them, but they were not keen to follow the schedule.”

Priyanka, Akshdeep win

In the junior girls’ 10km event, Priyanka Patel of Uttar Pradesh improved on the old mark of 49 minutes 16.51 seconds by winning in 49:01.81.

Punjab’s Akshdeep Singh won the boys’ 10km title clocking 42:04.65.

First Published: Feb 17, 2018 17:49 IST