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India wins first ever women's team medal at World Race Walking Championships

The trio of Ravina, Bhawna Jat and Munita Prajapati combined to clinch the bronze medal in the women's 20km event at the World Team Race Walking Championships.

India wins first ever womens team medal at World Race Walking Championships

Indian racewalking trio of Ravina, Bhawna Jat and Munita Prajapati claims the country's first-ever bronze at World Team Race Walking Championships (Source: SAI)


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 4 March 2022 4:23 PM GMT

The race walking trio of Bhawna Jat, Ravina and Munita Prajapati scripted history by winning the country's maiden women's 20km team medal, a bronze, at the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships on Friday.

China and Greece won the gold and silver respectively. Ravina produced the best finish by an Indian in the women's 20km event at 14th spot with a time of one hour 40 minutes 22 seconds. The experienced Bhawna Jat, a Tokyo Olympian, was 21st with a time of 1:43:08 and 20-year-old Munita Prajapati finished 26th in 1:45:03. The team medals are decided after taking into account the overall performance of the competing athletes of a country. "The hard work that we put in at the national camp has paid off," Jat said after the historic medal.

This was the Indian women's team's first medal in the 61-year history of the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships. The men's team had already won a medal -- also a bronze -- in 2012. The Indian team of KT Irfan, Babubhai Panucha and Surinder Singh had origionaly finished fourth in the men's 20km team event behind China, Ukraine and Australia in May 2012 at Saransk. Seven years after India missed a podium place at the IAAF World Race Walking Cup in Russia, the country was in august 2019 handed a bronze medal upgrade following disqualification of a member of the second-placed Ukrainian team for dope violation.

Earlier in the day, Amit Khatri led the field at the final kilometer but was disqualified after receiving his fourth red card in the U-20 men's 10km event. Khatri was leading the field when he was disqualified but he would not have won the gold even if he had crossed the finish line first as he was handed a 60-minute penalty after his third red card. He would certainly have been in the top 10 had he not received his fourth red card -- which resulted in his disqualification.

The 18-year-old Khatri, who had won a silver in the 10000m race walk event at the World Athletics U-20 Championships in Nairobi six months ago, was at 11th position at the halfway mark but he gradually pulled himself up to lead the pack after the 9km mark. Lying third behind two Chinese walkers at the start of the final kilometer, Khatri stepped up the pace and shot into the lead. However, he also picked up three red cards in addition to the one shown to him earlier, according to Athletics Federation of India.

But in the end, Khatri was pulled in to the penalty zone by the referee as the Indian threw up his hands in disappointment. "It left him gutted, disbelief that he was so close to winning a second medal on the world stage in six months but was left with a disqualification," the AFI said in a release. "If he had only three red cards in the race, Amit would have earned a top 5 finish with a one-minute stay in the penalty zone." Wang Hongren of China won the event in 44 minutes and six seconds while Italy's Diego Giampaolo (44:14s) and another Chinese Zeng Yu (44:14s) grabbed the silver and bronze medals respectively.

The finishing times were well short of personal best for a lot of athletes but the conditions were tough and tested everyone. A medal prospect, the 18-year-old Khatri had won a silver in the 10000m race walk event at the World Athletics U-20 Championships in Nairobi six months ago. He has a personal best of 40 minutes 28 seconds in Ranchi two years ago. In the U-20 women's 10km event, Reshma Patel finished 23rd in 53 minutes 10 seconds after doing well to stay with the leaders over the first 4km.

The two yellow paddles from judges in the third kilometer did not slow her down but the leaders pulled away from her after she got the first of her red cards just before the halfway mark. The 17-year-old from Dehradun dropped more positions even before she was given a one-minute stop at the penalty zone for having drawn her third red card at the ninth kilometer mark.

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