National record holder Kolothum Thodi Irfan finished a creditable fifth in a top-class field in the IAAF 20-km Race Walking Challenge event held at Taicang, China, on Friday.
Irfan, who finished 10th in 2012 London Olympics with a national record, clocked one hour 20 minutes and 59 seconds, the second best timing of his career. His national record stands at 1:20:21.
Out of the race
Reigning Olympic champion and one of the home favourites to win the race, Chen Ding withdrew mid-way into the race held under wet and chilly conditions.
The low temperature and continuous rain and wind troubled the walkers. Several athletes almost fell down at the wet and slippery course at the start of the race.
Another Chinese Li Jianbo, a specialist in the over-50-km and a seventh-placer at the London Olympics in that distance, clocked 1:18:52 to win the men’s race. He was three seconds ahead of teammate and London fourth placer Cai Zelin with Australia’s three time Olympic medallist Jared Tallent finishing third in 1:20:41.
In the women’s section, Sun Huanhuan of China won in 1:27:36, while compatriot Lu Xiuzhi finished 22 secs behind. Asian record-holder and Olympic bronze medallist Shenjie Qieyang completed the Chinese sweep with 1:28:27.
India’s Gaurav Kumari finished 11th with a personal best of 1:40:29.