Home Sports Ram Baboo Breaches Paris Games Qualification Mark; Seventh Indian Male Athlete To Do So

Ram Baboo Breaches Paris Games Qualification Mark; Seventh Indian Male Athlete To Do So

Ram Baboo Breaches Paris Games Qualification Mark; Seventh Indian Male Athlete To Do So


India’s Ram Baboo on Saturday achieved the Paris Olympics men’s 20km race qualification standard, clocking a personal best time of 1:20:00 at the Dudinska 50 Meet in Slovakia. Baboo, a bronze winner in the 35km walk race at the Hangzhou Asian Games, gave a good account of himself in this Race Walking Tour Gold-Level event finishing third. This is the first time an Indian athlete is finishing on the podium in this meet. The cutoff mark for Olympic qualification is 1:20:10.

Cesar Rodriguez of Peru finished top with a timing of 1:19:41, while Ecuador’s Brian Pintado came second clocking 1:19:44.

The 24-year-old Baboo is also the seventh male walker from the country to breach the above-mentioned qualification mark, while the others are: Akshdeep Singh, Suraj Panwar, Servin Sebastian, Arshpreet Singh, Pramjeet Bisht and Vikas Singh.

Priyanka Goswami remains the lone female walker to have qualified for the quadrennial extravaganza, having achieved the feat at last year’s National Open Race Walking Championships in Jharkhand.

However, a country can send only three athletes in an individual track and field event in the Olympics and it will now be up to the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) to determine who makes the cut for the Paris Games out of the seven race walkers.

Chief athletics coach Radhakrishnan Nair had said that the final selection could be made in June.

Irrespective of that, the Olympic qualification comes as a big step-up for Baboo, who hurdled over penury in his formative years.

The son of a daily-wage worker, Baboo worked as a waiter to self-finance his athletics training and joined his father in road construction under MGNREGA scheme during the Covid-19 lockdown, as his family was hard-pressed.

He initially ran marathons, 10000m and 5000m but developed knee pain.

On the advice of a local coach, Pramod Yadav, he later shifted to race walking which does not put too much pressure on his knees.

He initially started with 50km race walk but shifted to 35km race walk after World Athletics removed that event from its programme.

Baboo eventually moved to the 20km event as the mixed team event is unpredictable because the combined timing of male and female competitors of a country is taken into consideration for medal.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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