Baljinder Singh has earned a berth for the London Olympics after finishing fifth in the Asian 20 Km Race Walking championships with a timing of 1:22:12. The A qualification standard for the London Olympics was 1:22:30. En route to Nomi (Japan),Baljinder won the Indian trials at Patiala on February 15 with a noteworthy 1:22:01.
A maximum of three athletes with Aqualification performance can represent a country in an event at the Olympics. In the same event,Baljinder compatriot and national record-holder Gurmeet Singh,who has already attained the qualification with a timing of 1:22:05 in Dublin last year,won a silver medal.He timed 1:21:31 for the silver medal.
Gurmeet had clocked an impressive 1:20:23 during the inter-railway championships at Bhubaneswar last month. Gurmeet led race until the last kilometre and barely missed the gold in just 9 seconds to Chinas Zhu Chundong (1:21:22).
For Chundong,it was a personal best as he improved nearly 7 minutes from his previous record. Gurmeet had finished seventh here last year. Korean walker Byun Young Jun finished third for the bronze medal in 1:21:42. Besides the above two Indians,Surinder Singh timed 1:23:53,well ahead of Abbal Singh Rana (1:27:50).
Deepmala finishes fourth
In the womens race,Deepmala Devi finished fourth with a timing of 1:42:01. Chinas Ding Huiquin took the top spot in 1:30:14. Rei Inoue of Japan (1:34:06) and Nguyen Thi Thanh of Vietnam (1:35:13) won the silver and bronze respectively. While,national champion Khusbir Kaur finished 5th.
Although only one athlete from a country is allowed to compete in each category (men / women) 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.