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Amit Khatri wins silver in 10000m race walk at U-20 World Athletics Championships

Amit Khatri clocked 42:17.94 to finish second in 10000m Racewalk at the ongoing U-20 World Athletics Championships

Amit Khatri

Amit Khatri (Source: AFI)


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 21 Aug 2021 4:20 PM GMT

Amit Khatri braved breathing difficulties to win a silver in the men's 10,000m race walk event, clinching India's second medal at the World U-20 Athletics Championship on Saturday. The 17-year-old Khatri, the national record holder and world U-20 season leader, clocked 42 minute 17.94 seconds to finish second behind Kenya's Heristone Wanyoni (42:10.84) on the fourth and penultimate day of the championships.

The mixed 4x400m relay team had won a bronze on the first day of competitions on Wednesday. Another medal contender, Priya Mohan came up with a personal best time of 52.77 seconds in the women's 400m final but was beaten to the podium by Kenya's Sylvia Chelangat by 0.54 seconds. Priya improved upon her previous best of 53.29 she had clocked while winning the National Inter-State Athletics Championships on June 28.

Son of a havildar-ranked Indian defence force personnel from Ismaila village in Haryana's Rohtak district, Khatri was leading after the 9000m mark but the local athlete Wanyoni pulled ahead with less than two laps left in the race to win gold with a personal best time. His frequent visits to the refreshment table to get water -- especially the last one with just a lap and a half to go for the finish -- could have cost him the gold. Paul McGrath of Spain won the bronze with a timing of 42:26.11 minutes. Khatri's silver was the first medal in race walk by an Indian in the U20 world championships and sixth overall in the junior flagship event.

Seema Antil (bronze in discus throw, 2002), Navjeet Kaur Dhillon (bronze in discus throw, 2014), Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra (gold in javelin throw, 2016) and Hima Das (gold in 400m, 2018) were the earlier medal winners before the mixed 4x400m relay team win a bronze in this edition on Wednesday.

Khatri rued that he could not produce his personal best of 40:40.97 which he had recorded while winning gold during the Federation Cup Junior National Championships in January. The high altitude conditions in the Kenyan capital had affected Khatri's performance as he struggled for breath during the race. Nairobi is at an altitude of around 1800m from sea level. "It is not the result I expected but I am happy with the silver medal. Even though I came here five days before the event to acclimatise, the high altitude affected me," Khatri said after his race.

"At some point in the race, I would not breath properly but I am happy with the silver medal," he added. It was also the youngster's first international competition. "I was nervous. It was everything first time for me, the opponents, the conditions. My mind was disturbed and suddenly he overtook me and I could not catch him. "I also lost time while going for water bottle at water points, it slipped from my hands. But for these things, I would have won the gold." His coach Chandan Singh said Khatri's Kenyan rival had the advantage as he knows the local high altitude conditions. "I feel Amit could have won the gold but the high altitude conditions had affected him. The Kenyan was training in those home conditions and it was advantageous to him," Chandan told PTI from Army Sports Institute in Pune.

In other events, Baljeet Kaur clocked a personal best in the women's 10,000m race walk with a time of 48:58.15 that saw her finish seventh. She did well over the first 3000m of the race, covering that distance in 14:06.90, the fastest credited to any competitor at that mark. Yet, when Mexico's Sofia Ramos Rodrigues stepped up the pace, some others also slipped past the Indian.

In the men's 400m hurdles semifinals, Rohan Kamble was seventh in his heat in 52.88 seconds and could not enter the final. In the men's 4x400m relay, the quartet of CR Abdul Razzak, Sumit Chahal, Kapil and Barath Sridhar finished sixth in their heat in 3:10.62, a season's best for the team, and was 0.40 seconds off the time that could have placed them in the final.

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