Race walker Suraj loses Paris ticket as World Athletics cancels results of Nationals

    Suraj Panwar had missed the automatic qualification standard for the Paris Olympics by one second in the 20km event at the race walking Nationals in Ranchi early last year where he clocked 1:20.11s for the silver.

    The 23-year-old from Uttarakhand must have been pretty thrilled when he made the cut this year, clocking 1:19.43.08s (Olympics entry standard 1:20.10s) for the silver, at the race walking Nationals in Chandigarh in January. That would have placed him second in the list of Indians who would be flying for next month’s Paris Olympics.

    Unfortunately, the World Athletics has now made all the first day’s results of the two-day Nationals invalid, marking them as IRM (invalid results marks) on its website.

    With his personal best time cancelled, Suraj will now have to rush and do a fast time somewhere before the June 30 deadline to go to Paris for his best time now in the qualification period is 1:20.11 which he clocked in Ranchi last year. That will also mean that Punjab’s Akshdeep Singh, who bettered his own national record to win the gold, could now lose his new record (1:19:37.56).

    Walkers have a longer qualification period to make the cut for Paris (December 31, 2022-June 30, 2024) and Akshdeep (1:19.55, in India last year), Ram Baboo (1:20.00, Slovakia), Vikash Singh (1:20.05, Japan) and Paramjeet Singh (1:20.08, Japan) have already achieved the automatic qualification standard earlier or in other international meets while Suraj, who virtually had a confirmed berth, has been left out. By the way, only three can go to Paris.

    One could not get through to Adille Sumariwalla, the Athletics Federation of India president, for details on the world body’s move. And Stanley Jones, the chairman of AFI’s technical committee, could not offer any clarity on the issue.

    “I’m not aware of this, I don’t know…because I don’t get anything,” Jones told The Hindu on Thursday.

    However one technical official, who was at the Chandigarh Nationals but who did not wish to be named, said there was an issue with a transponder (which counts the laps and takes timings) at the venue on the first day and that could be the reason for the results being made invalid by World Athletics.

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