Race walkers Sandeep, Irfan, Priyanka fetch gold in Nationals

New Delhi: Haryana's Sandeep Kumar improved his national mark in the mens 50km race walk, clocking 3:55.59.05 to clinch the gold at the National Race Walking Championships here on Saturday.

In the men's 20km competition, Services athletes made a clean sweep, with Olympian K.T. Irfan clocking 1:22:43.48 seconds for the top spot while ONGC athlete Priyanka clinched the gold in women's 20km walk, with in 1:37.58.32.

The championships, however, lost some of the sheen as top women's 20km race walker Khushbeer Kaur and her men's counterpart Manish Singh Rawat pulled out at the last minute without informing the Athletics Federation of India (AFI).

AFI had earlier instructed all the athletes to take part in the championships as it's the qualifying event of the Asian Race Walking Championships to be held in Nomi, Japan on March 20.

Meanwhile, Sandeep, who bettered his own national record of 3:56:22 which he clocked in May 2014, has also qualified for the London World Championships in August.

Services athletes Jitender Singh (4:02:11.58) and Chandan Singh (4:04:18.41) won the silver and bronze respectively in the 50km category. Both Jitender and Chandan also booked their berths for the August 4-13 World Championships.

Sandeep, who had finished fourth in 2014 Asian Games, was richer by Rs 50,000, while Jitender and Chandan got Rs 30,000 and Rs 20,000 respectively as prize money.

In men's 20km walk, Services swept all the three medals with Irfan bagging the gold and Devender (1:22:43.59) and K. Ganapati (1:22:57.86) settling for the silver and bronze respectively.

Irfan received a winner's prize money of Rs 50,000 while Devender and Ganapati received Rs 30,000 and Rs 15,000 respectively.

Among the women, while Priyanka won the gold and took the cheque of Rs 50,000, Railways athletes Shanti Kumar (1:38:38.70) and Rani Yadav (1:38:51.30) bagged the silver and bronze, respectively.

While none of the women athletes could qualify for the World Championships, Shanti took home a cheque of Rs 30,000 while Rani bagged Rs 15,000.