Uttarakhand’s race walkers won gold medals in the men's and women’s 20km race walking events at the ongoing National U23 Athletics Championships on Tuesday.
Suraj Panwar won the men’s 20km title. HiS medal winning time was 1:28:53.11 seconds. In the women’s 20km, it was a double joy for Uttarakhand. Reshma Patel won gold with a time of 1:45:01.55 seconds while Mansi Negi clocked 1:45:45.95 seconds to win silver.
Since the Delhi State Athletics Association failed to get permission to conduct the event on the road adjoining the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, it was held on the track.
In the men’s 20km race walking event, Nairobi’s World U20 Athletics Championships racewalk silver medallist Amit Khatri battled with Suraj for the gold medal. Both Amit and Suraj shared leads during the 20km race. The gold medal, however, was decided on the last lap of the race. Suraj surged off Amit to cross the line to win his first major 20km race of the season.
Suraj planned the race to ensure victory at the National U23 Athletics Championships
Suraj said that since it was his first competitive race over 20km distance, he was cautious and did not want to go all out from the beginning of the race.
“I never wanted to go all out in the first half of the race and spoil my chances of a medal. I faced a stiff challenge from Amit but managed to dig deep into my reserve on the last lap to win gold,” said Suraj.
In the age group (under-20) the distance is 10km. In U23 and senior group the distance is 20km.
It was Amit's first race over the 20km distance.
“I wasn’t prepared for the 20km. But wanted to give it a try. I am satisfied with my performance. It was a close finish. I hope to do better next time,” said Amit who's silver medal winning time was 1:28:54.81 seconds.
The hot and humid weather took a toll on the athletes. Of the 20 athletes who started the race in the men’s group, half of them didn’t finish the race while one athlete was disqualified. Only nine athletes completed the race.
In the women’s section, 10 athletes completed the race. Four didn’t finish.