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Punjab’s Akshdeep Singh qualifies for Paris Olympics with gold in 20km race walk

Ranchi, 14 February (Language)

Akshdeep Singh on Tuesday qualified for this year’s World Championships and the 2024 Paris Olympics by winning the gold medal in the men’s 20 km event at the National Race Walking Championships, setting a national record. The 22-year-old from Punjab clocked one hour, 19 minutes and 55 seconds to create a new national record. The previous record was held by veteran Sandeep Kumar, who had a national record of 1 hour 20 minutes and 16 seconds. Sandeep, however, put up a disappointing show on Tuesday. He finished seventh with a timing of 1:23:28. Suraj Panwar of Uttarakhand finished second with a timing of 1:20:11, narrowly missing out on achieving the World Championship and Olympic qualifying times. Delhi’s Vikas Singh finished third with a timing of 1:21:08. 48 players completed this event. Son of a farmer father and homemaker mother, Akshdeep took his initial training under the supervision of renowned coach Gurdev Singh at Patiala University. He then entered the Sports Authority of India Center in Bengaluru, where he is currently training under national race walking coach Tatyana Sibyleva through the Khelo India Games. He had won a gold medal at the Khelo India University Games in Bengaluru last year and a bronze medal at the National Games in Gujarat.

The qualifying time for the men’s 20km race walk for both the World Championships in Budapest in August and the 2024 Olympics is 1:20:10. Prior to this surprise result, Akshdeep had a personal best of 1h 23m 14s which he had clocked last time in the same championship. In the women’s 20km event, national record holder Priyanka Goswami qualified for both the World Championships and the 2024 Olympics with a timing of 1:28:50. She won the gold medal but missed out on improving her national record of 1:28:45. He made this record in 2021. The 26-year-old Priyanka, who represented the country at the Tokyo Olympics, had won a silver in the women’s 10,000m race walk at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games. Bhavna Jat of Rajasthan finished second with a timing of 1:29:44 and Sonal Sukhwal of her state came third with a timing of 1:31:30. Star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra and 3000m steeplechase athlete Avinash Sable have also qualified for the World Championships, but they are yet to qualify for the 2024 Olympics.

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