K.T. Irfan finished a highly creditable 10th in the men’s 20km walk event on Saturday.

Clinging onto the leading bunch from the start, the 22-year-old Armyman, hailing from Kerala, clocked a national record of 1:20:21, bettering the 1:20:35 timed by Gurmeet Singh at Patiala in May last year.

Irfan’s previous best was the Olympic standard that he clocked in the World Cup in Saransk (1:22:09) last May.

Tipped as possible contenders for medals back home, the Indian walkers managed to salvage some pride through the gallant effort of Irfan. The other two Indians, Gurmeet Singh, who finished 33rd in 1:23:34,and Baljinder Singh who took the 43rd place in 1:25:39 were not really up to the standards expected.

Baljinder was on two red cards midway through and looked drained out, but did well to finish the course.

An eighth placing for Zora Singh in the 50km walk event at the Tokyo Olympics had remained the best for India in walk events at the Olympics. Zora also had a 20th-place finish in the 20km walk in Tokyo where Ajit Singh took the 15th place in the 50km.

In the morning, Sudha Singh could manage only the 13th place in her heat in the women’s 3000m steeplechase to bow out.

The 26-year-old Indian, who took the Asian Games title in 2010 to come into prominence, could not better her national record of 9:47.70 clocked at Huelva, Spain last June, as she avoided the bottom placing.

Two runners in the 15-woman heat came behind her. She was 31st overall among 44 runners. The top four in the three heats and three ‘fastest losers’ qualified for the final.

In the women’s discus event, in which Krishna Poonia qualified for the final, Seema Antil finished 13th overall. She was just one place shy of making the grade, with a third-round throw of 61.91m. She has a personal best of 64.84m and a season best of 62.60m.

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