Birmingham : Race walker Priyanka Goswami and steeplechaser Avinash Sable maintained India’s medal-winning spree in track and field as they bagged a silver apiece in their respective disciplines to add to the silver and bronze won by Murli Sreeshankar and Tejaswi Shankar in the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games here.
Both clinched India’s first medals in the 10km race walk and 3000m steeplechase respectively and also set new national records in the process, further establishing themselves as India’s best medal hopes in the next few years.
Priyanka shattered the three-year-old national record to clinch the silver medal in the women’s 10km race walk at the Alexander Stadium, on Saturday morning.
Tokyo Olympian Priyanka clocked 43:38.82, a new Indian national record, to claim her podium place, improving on the national record held by Khushbir Kaur at 44:33.5 since 2017. The Indian improved her previous personal best of 48:30.35 by almost five minutes to win the medal.
She finished second behind Australia’s Jemima Montag who clocked 42:34.30 for a new Commonwealth Games record and a personal best. Emily Wamusyi Ngii won the bronze medal in 43:50.86.
With this, Priyanka also became the first Indian woman to win a medal in race walk at the Commonwealth Games. Prior to this, Harminder Singh was the first Indian to have won a medal in race walk — bronze — in the 20km event in 2010 CWG in Delhi.
Sable was even more awesome as he became the first non-Kenyan to win a medal in the 3000m steeplechase at the Commonwealth Games since 1994. The Kenyans have won every steeplechase race at the last 10 CWG editions, claiming all the spots on the podium. Sable entered the Kenyan bastion and came out with a silver medal.
He also set a national record with a timing of 8:11.20, which is his personal best, finishing second behind Kenya’s Abraham Kibiwot, who took gold at 8:11.15, nearly ending the race in a photo finish as he tapped into some unknown reserves of energy to produce a brilliant kick, literally finishing on the heels of Kibiwot. Kenya’s Amos Serem won the bronze medal in 8:16.83 seconds.
Though he claimed the silver, Sable was not happy with his last lap and said it could have been better.
“My last lap was a bit disappointing, but I’m really happy because it is a long time since India won a long-distance medal,” he later told the reporters.
Just like Sable did in the steeplechase, Priyanka bagged the first silver medal for India in 10km race walk at the Commonwealth Games. She was happy for obvious reasons with her overall effort on Saturday.
“This is the first Commonwealth Games medal in race walk for an Indian woman so I’m really pleased to have created a piece of history,” she said.
Priyanka said she concentrated on own race and did not try to chase after Australia’s Montag.
“I wasn’t thinking about the Australian, when you look at what we did at the Olympics in Tokyo and the world championships last month she is a better walker than me. I just concentrated on my own race and I hope to close the gap on her (in the future) step-by-step.”
Priyanka ran from the front and was in the lead group from the 1000 m mark. She completed the first kilometre in 4:12.67 and the next in 4:18.70. The third kilometre was her fastest as she completed it in 4:17.58.
She was dropped back to equal third at the midway stage but moved ahead to second as the race wound down.