Rio de Janeiro:
India’s campaign in athletics continued to remain uninspiring as race walkers-Sandeep Kumar and Khushbir Kaur-finished way below their career best timings at their respective events at the Rio Olympic Games here.
Sapana Punia, meanwhile, failed to finish her race. Sandeep finished at a lowly 34th in the men’s 50km Race Walk event. While in women’s 20km Race Walk, Khushbir ended at 54th position, even as Sapana had a ‘DNF’ tag against her name as she failed to cross the finish line.
Among 49 racers in the men’s 50km Race Walk, Sandeep clocked 4 hours 7 minutes and 55 seconds, which was 26:57 behind the gold medallist Matej Toth of Slovakia.
At the half-way mark, the 30-year-old Indian, who had finished fourth in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, was 48th with a time of 1:59:13, which was 9:42 behind the leader.
The Armyman from Haryana was nowhere close to his personal best of 3:56.22, a national record he had set in the IAAF Race Walking Team Championship in Taicang, China two years ago.
World champion Toth managed to beat 2012 London Olympics gold medallist Jared Tallent of Australia into second place with a time of 3:40:58.
Toth, 33, moved past the Australian in the latter stages of a race. The Australian racer ended clocking 3:41:16. Canada’s Evan Dunfee (3:41:38) settled with a bronze. In women’s 20km Race Walk, Khushbir clocked one hour 40 minutes and 33 seconds to complete the race.
23-year-old girl from Amritsar had become the first Indian woman to clinch 20km Race Walk silver medal at the Incheon Asian Games in 2014 by bettering her personal best and setting a new national record.
She had clocked 1:33:07 to improve on her previous personal best of 1:33:37, which was also the national record to bag the second position.
But today Khushbir was way behind her personal best and finished 11:58 behind the gold medallist—Liu Hong of China. At the half-way mark, Khushbir was 48th with a time of 47:35. At that stage, she was 2:11 behind the leader.
Hong clocked 1:28:35 to win the gold, while silver medal was bagged by Mexico’s Maria Guadalupe Gonzalez (1:28:37) and China’s Lu Xiuzhi clinched the bronze with a time of 1:28:42. However, Sapana retired after 8 kms, having clocked 37:44.