Avinash Sable became India’s first male athlete to win a long distance medal at the Commonwealth Games with a silver in 3000m steeplechase and Priyanka Goswami also achieved a first while finishing on podium in a race walk event here on Saturday.
Sable broke his own national record on way to the silver while Goswami too clinched a medal of the same colour in the women’s 10,000m race walk event on a productive day for India in the athletics competition.
With the two silver, the Indian athletics team’s medal count swelled to four, the most in a CWG outside India and second best ever (in terms of number of medals). The country had won a gold, a silver and a bronze in athletics in 2018 Gold Coast.
The country’s best athletics medal haul had come at the Delhi CWG in 2010 when it won 2 gold, 3 silver and 7 bronze.
Kibiwot had finished fifth in the World Championships in Eugene, USA, last month with a time of 8:28.95s while Sable had ended a disappointing 11th, clocking 8:28.95s in the slowest ever 3000m steeplechase final in the history of the showpiece.
With the silver here, Sable made amends for his disappointing performance in the World Championships.
A farmer’s son from Mandwa village in Maharashtra’s Beed district, the Indian Armyman showed he can beat some of the best Kenyan runners as defending champion and 2016 Olympics champion Conseslus Kipruto from that country finished sixth with a time of 8:34.96. Kipruto had also won a bronze in the World Championships last month.
Sable, who has served at the Siachen Glaciers before taking to athletics, has been on a national record-breaking spree in recent times. He had clocked 8:12.48 when he finished fifth at the prestigious Diamond League Meeting in Rabat, Morocco in June.
Goswami also scripted history as she became the first Indian woman to win a medal in race walk with a silver in 10,000m event. It was also her first medal in a major international event.
The 26-year-old clocked a personal best time of 43:38.83s to finish second behind Jemima Montag (42:34.30) of Australia. Emily Wamusyi Ngii (43:50.86) of Kenya took the bronze. This was her first major medal.
Harminder Singh was the first Indian to win a medal in race walk — a bronze — in the 20km event in 2010 CWG in Delhi.
”I wasn’t thinking about the Australian (gold medallist Jemima Montag), 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.” Asked about the mascots and fingernails she was having, Goswami said, ”I have a Lord Krishna and I take him with me to every competition and he brought me luck today.
”I have also painted my nails with the flags of the country where I compete so I have England for the Commonwealth Games, Japan for the Olympic Games, Spain because I raced there and some other flags as well.” Daughter of a bus conductor at a nondescript village at Muzaffarnagar district in Uttar Pradesh, Goswami was interested in sports from a young age.
In 2007, while in class VI, she was into gymnastics for a while but started taking interest in athletics by the time she was in class IX. She was also into running 800m and 1500m before switching to race walk in 2011 on the advice of her coach.
This was Goswami’s first race on track after 2014.
Goswami is the national record holder in women’s 20km race walk event with a time of 1:28:4 but she was competing in 10,000m as her pet event is not there in the Birmingham CWG.
The Indian women’s 4 x 100m relay quartet of Dutee Chand, Hima Das, Srabani Nanda and Jyothi Yarraji qualified for the final after finishing second in heat 1, and overall seventh, with a time of 44.45. Jyothi was preferred over N S Simi, who was also named in the team.
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