Stuck in logjam, Olympian race walker Priyanka Goswami hopes to adapt soon to new coaching pattern

Race walker Priyanka Goswami in action. (Source: Indian Express)
Race walker Priyanka Goswami in action. (Source: Indian Express)
Navneet Singh

India’s Priyanka Goswami finished a creditable 17th in the women’s 20km race walking event on her debut at the Tokyo Olympics held earlier this year in Japan. However, for the 2022 competitive season, the 25-year-old from Uttar Pradesh will have to adapt to the new coaching system at the national camp.

Goswami will not practice under her long-time coach Gurmeet Singh in the future.

“My name is not in the national camp,” Gurmeet told Sportskeeda on Monday. "I am only training athletes under the National Center of Excellence scheme of SAI in Bengaluru."

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has appointed Harminder Singh, a former international race walker, as an assistant coach to Russian expert Alexander Artsybashev, to oversee the national camp. The foreign coach is yet to join the camp.

Priyanka holds the national record of 1:28. 45 seconds in the women’s 20km race walking event, set in February this year in Ranchi during the National Race Walking Championships. The Olympian attributed the good performance to hard work as well as training under athletics coach Gurmeet for a prolonged period of two years.

However, Priyanka has to quickly adapt to the new coaching system as Gurmeet’s name has been struck off from the national camp being held in Bengaluru’s Sports Authority of India (SAI) training center.

“Priyanka will not be training with my group as I am not appointed for the national camp by AFI,” said Gurmeet.

Priyanka Goswami confident of performing well in 2022 despite the coaching change

Despite the change of guards, Priyanka has expressed confidence in further improving her time in the 2022 season that will feature five important competitions, including the Oregon World Athletics Championship scheduled to be held in July.

“My goal is to compete in all five international competitions next year," said Priyanka over the phone from Bengaluru. "The more international experience I gain the better it is. I also hope to improve my 2021 performance of 1:28.45 seconds for the 20km race walking event."

By virtue of clocking 1:28.45 seconds during the National Race Walking Championships in Ranchi, Priyanka has already qualified for the 2022 World Athletics Championships.

Birmingham Commonwealth Games and Asian Games in China are the two other important events in 2022.

The AFI will set qualifying standards for the Commonwealth and Asian Games when the domestic competition resumes next year.

“I have joined the ongoing national camp in Bengaluru,” the Olympian said. "My basic aim for next year will be to compete in all five international events."

Priyanka, though, was silent on the adaptation of the new coaching pattern at the national camp.

Athletes take time to adapt to the new training schedule. It all depends on how long an individual takes to get used to a new coaching system, said a former national coach.

"Athletes should also skip events that doesn’t count," he said. " If the aim is to compete in all the five competitions, it will be near to impossible to peak in all the competitions."

The Asian Race Walking Championship in March and the World Athletics Race Walking Championships in April are the two other international events in 2022.

Priyanka’s first major test will be the National Championships in February.

“If all goes well as planned, I should be able to break 1:28 minutes for the 20km race walking event at the National Championships in February,” she said.

Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee
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