The 23-year-old is eligible for both the World Championships and the Olympics in Paris in 2024.
Akshdeep Singh beat the national men’s 20-kilometer race walk record on Tuesday, winning the title at the Ranchi-based National Open Race Walking Championships.
Tokyo Olympian Priyanka Goswami also makes the cut. Priyanka Goswami, a Tokyo Olympian, won the women’s race, qualifying for both the August World Championships in Budapest and the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
However, Akshdeep of Punjab almost did not compete. He had been devastated by his grandfather’s sudden death five days earlier. The child simply desired to board the first return train.
I was very close to him, and his death broke me. I simply desired to return home, but my parents persuaded me to remain and complete the task. Watching his final rites over a video call was heartbreaking, according to Akshdeep.
After that, the 23-year-old set out to “finish the job,” which he accomplished in some style. Bettering Sandeep Kumar’s national record of 1:20:16, also set at Ranchi two years ago,
Akshdeep became the first Indian to dip under 1 hour and 20 minutes. As the first athlete to qualify for Paris, his 1:19:55 time met the requirements for the two global meets.
Priyanka’s time of 1:28:50 was five seconds slower than her 2021 national record, which was set in the same city.
Although I was not surprised by the outcome, I am very pleased. Akshdeep stated, “I anticipated going under 1:20.” The circuit moved quickly, and the weather was very nice. We never experienced dehydration.
Suraj Panwar of Uttarakhand finished second in a time of 1:20:11, just missing the Olympic and World qualifying time of 1:20.10s. 1:29:20 is the women’s qualifying time.
I feel sorry for Suraj because we train together and he is a dear friend. Akshdeep stated, “I am sure he will make up for it soon.”
Even though it was the start of the season, the elite racewalkers were a big draw to the nationals. Sandeep Kumar.
The defending champion, came in seventh (1:23:28), and Olympian KT Irfan, the 16th (1:25:55). Bhawana Jat, a Tokyo Olympian, finished second in the women’s race (1:29:44).
He is from the village of Kahneke in the Barnala district of Punjab. A former kabaddi player in his youth.
Akshdeep’s father is a farmer who also works as the village milkman to make ends meet. Akshdeep started running in 2015 because he wanted to join the army.
He stated, “I was driven to join the army despite the fact that I was slight in build and everyone wanted me to get into some sport.”
His teammates encouraged him to take distance running seriously as he began regularly defeating older and stronger boys.
He went to Punjabi University, Patiala, for an open trial the following year. There, experienced race walk coach Gurdev Singh saw him and convinced him to start walking.
He became his mentor and informed Akshdeep that he had the potential to run 1:17-1:18. The former national champion ran 50km twice and 20km once.
To provide some context, the Olympic record is 1:18:46, while the Asian and world record is 1:16:36., And Italy’s Massimo Stanothe was able to win the Tokyo gold in 2021 with a time of 1:21:05.
This year, Akshdeep’s time was within striking distance of the world record, set by Sweden’s Perseus Karlstrom on Sunday in Melbourne with a time of 1:19:27.
The man who slashed his personal best by 3:59 minutes in 10 months is sure to make waves this season.
“In 2018, I started dreaming about the Olympics, but my coach always told me that it’s pointless to just make numbers at the Games.
So, my next objective is to get to the point where I can compete for medals at big events.