10000m runners better Asian Games qualifying mark in National Inter-State C’ship

Bhubaneswar:  Kartik Kumar of Uttar Pradesh breached the Asian Games qualifying mark by a fair distance as he won the gold medal in men’s 10000 race on the opening day of the National Inter-State Athletics Championship here on Thursday.

Kumar clinched the yellow metal with a timing of 29:01.84 seconds.

The 24-year-old Kumar bettered the Hangzhou Asian Games (September 23 to October 8) qualifying time of 29:30.00s set by the Athletics Federation of India.

The Asian Games will also be Kumar’s first big international event at the senior level. He has won a 10000m bronze in the Asian U-20 Championships in 2018.

His Uttar Pradesh team-mate and training partner at the Sports Authority of India Centre in Bengaluru, Gulveer Singh finished second with a time of 29:03.78s and also bettered the Asian Games qualifying mark.

In fact, third and fourth place finishers — Delhi’s Pritam Kumar (29:22.36s) and Harmanjot Singh of Madhya Pradesh (29:26.86s) — also breached the Asian Games qualifying mark but they will miss the bus for the continental multi-sport showpiece as only two athletes per country can take part in Hangzhou, China.

“If more than two athletes go past the qualifying mark, the AFI under its guidelines will pick the top two for the Asian Games. A country can send only two athletes per event,” chief national coach Radhakrishnan Nair told PTI.

Unheralded Seema of Himachal Pradesh stunned defending champion Sanjivani Jadhav of Maharashtra to win gold in the women’s 10000m race but failed to breach the Asian Games qualifying time.

Seema, whose only earlier win at the national senior level was a gold at the National Games in Gujarat last year, clocked 34:20.01s, way past the Asian Games qualifying time of 32:30.24s, while Jadhav clocked 34:34.10s.

Jadhav, who ran 32:46.88s at the Portland Track Festival in USA a few days back, was disappointed with her performance but said humid conditions affected her timing.

“I was running at around 13-14 degree celsius there in the USA and I returned to India just a few days back. I could not adjust to the heat and humidity so quickly,” Jadhav said after the race.

The temperature in Bhubhaneswar during the morning session hovered around 30 degree celsius but the humidity was nearing 90 per cent.

No athlete breached the Asian Games qualifying mark in both men’s and women’s 20km race walk — the other two medal events of the day.

Sandeep Kumar won the men’s 20km race walk event with a time of one hour 27 minute 12 seconds while Bhawna Jat bagged the women’s gold with a meet record of 1:37:03.00s. The earlier women’s 20km race walk meet record was 1:39:00.60s in the name of Deepmala Devi.

National record holder Priyanka Goswami, who has already qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics and World Championships in Hungary in August, finished second with a time of 1:40:33.00s, well below her personal best of 1:28:45s.

In women’s 400m heats round one, Anjali Devi of Haryana breached the Asian Games qualifying mark of 52.96s, clocking 52.89s while winning heat one.

R Vithya Ramraj of of Tamil Nadu won heat two with a timing of 52.97s, while Aishwarya Mishra of Maharashtra and Dandi Jyothika Sri of Andhra Pradesh emerged winners in heat three and four respectively.

In the men’s 400m heats round one, Muhammed Anas Yahiya of Kerala clocked the fastest time in the four heats with 46.48s.

In the women’s 100m heats round one, Jyothi Yarraji clocked the fastest time in the four heats with 11.65s.