Athletics: India’s first ever bronze in team walking for women

The Indian women walkers could not have given a better gift to India on Women’s Day than  first ever bronze medal in the World Athletics Race Walking Championship. The Indian women’s 20km walk team, comprising Ravina, Bhawna Jat and Munita Prajapati,  made history by winning the first medal in the 61-year  athletic history  by finishing behind China and Greece in the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championship in Muscat on Friday.

Ravina produced the best finish by an Indian in the women’s 20km event in the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships Muscat22, with the 14th place by returning a timing of  1:40:22. The experienced Bhawna Jat was 21st with a time of 1:43:08 and 20-year-old Munita Prajapati finished 26th in 1:45:03. 

Earlier in the day, India’s top U20 men’s race walker Amit Khatri suffered a heartbreak when he was disqualified with four red cards, when in sight of a dramatic victory in U20 men’s 10km race. 

Lying third behind two Chinese walkers at the start of the final kilometer, the 18-year-old 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. 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.

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. Despite the disqualification, Amit will have learnt lessons and drawn heart from how he moved up from 10th place after the opening kilometer and 11th place among a tight group of walkers at the halfway stage. 

Reshma Patel finished 23rd in the U20 women’s 10km event 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 3rd 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 in the 9th kilometer. The Allahabad-born girl will have learnt some lessons from the race which was on a loop of 1km with a long incline adding to the challenge.