National record holder Gurmeet Singh has won a silver medal, while Baljinder Singh has earned a ticket to the London Olympics in the Asian 20km race walking championships at Nomi City, Japan.
Gurmeet, who had already qualified for the Olympics by clocking 1:22:07 in Dublin in June last, returned a timing of 1:21:31 to finish second on Sunday. He led the race until the last kilometre and missed the gold by nine seconds to China's Zhu Chundong, who clocked his personal best of 1:21:22. Korean Byun Young Jun ended up third with 1:21:42.
Twenty-five-year old Baljinder, who finished sixth overall, recorded a timing of 1:22:12, which was 18 seconds less than the ‘A' qualification standard for the Olympics.
The Chandigarh walker had won the trials at Patiala with a performance of 1:22:01 last month to get selected for the Nomi event.
A maximum of three athletes with ‘A' qualification can represent a country in an event at the Olympic Games. Besides the two, Surinder Singh timed 1:23:53 and Abbal Singh Rana 1:27:50 at Nomi.
Although only one athlete from a country is allowed to compete in each category at the Asian race walking championships, India and Iran obtained special permission to field additional entries to attain Olympic qualification as the Nomi event was one of the pre-designated races to achieve the London grade.
In the women's race, Deepmala Devi finished fourth with a timing of 1:42:01. China's Ding Huiquin took the top spot in 1:30:14.
Keywords: Asian race walking championships