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Khushbir not happy with race walk course; experts praise it

Khushbir Kaur

Jaipur : The Jaipur race walk course might have got praise from international experts but national record holder Khushbir Kaur was not happy with it as she limped out of the finishing line after winning the gold in the women’s 20km event here today.

Irishman Pierce O’Callaghan, who is in the international panel of race walking judges of the IAAF, praised the course as one of the best he had seen and capable of hosting top level international events, but Khushbir was not impressed.

After winning the women’s 20km race walk event today in a moderate time of 1:34:52.70, Khushbir, who has already qualified for the Rio Olympics, blamed the slope of the course for her limping as she said that she felt pain on her right thigh from the 11km mark onwards.

She continued and completed the race to win the gold but later made her displeasure known to the officials about the slope in the course.

Khushbir’s national record (which she created in 2014) stands at 1:31.40 and given that her men counterparts had come with fast timings today, many thought her 1:34:52.70 effort was a bit slow.

“Before the race started, I told the organisers about the slope and requested them to use only one half of the road so that the slope was minimised. But they did not do it and I was feeling pain on my right thigh from the 11km mark onwards but I continued as I wanted to complete it,” said the 22-year-old Amritsar girl Khushbir, who was helped to reach the changing room by a lady team official as she limped out of the finishing line.

“While coming down (to the side of the road which has slope), you have the extra impact on the right leg and so the pain developed. It is a minor pain and it will go after a few days. I will be fully fit for the Asian 20km Race Walking Championships in Nomi, Japan on March 20,” she added.

Her coach Alexander Artsybashev said Khushbir had the same pain two years back in a race walk competition in Kochi, where the course also had a slope.

“The same thing happened two years back in Kochi and this course like there (in Kochi) has a slope and she said she felt pain while her right leg lands on the side of the road which has a slope after the 10km mark. But I think it is just a minor one which will go away,” said the Russian who has been with the Indian race walk team since 2011.

But O’Callaghan and the other IAAF technical official Fung Wang Tak of Hong were all praise of the course, terming it as world class.

“I have been to several race walk events around the world and this course is one of the best. The smooth and straight surface of one kilometer without any bend, it is really a top class course. I hope the IAAF will give Grand Prix race walk events here. I have no doubt that Jaipur will host international race walk events in future,” said O’Callaghan, who was the campaign manager of the IAAF chief Sebastian Coe during his presidential election last year.

Asked about the complaint made by Khushbir about the slope of the road, O’Callaghan said, “You will not find any perfect flat road for race walk events anywhere in the world. There will have to be some slopes here and there. She may have a different view but I still say this is a world class course.”

Fung also agreed with O’Callaghan, saying, “This course is as good as any other I have seen in international race walk events. There would be better courses than this but I haven’t come across perfectly flat roads in race walk events anywhere in the world.”

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