Amit Khatri won India its second medal at the ongoing World U20 Athletics Championships in Nairobi by claiming silver in the men’s 10,000 race walk event. Amit finished the race in an impressive time of 42 minutes and 17.94 seconds to finish second.

Amit became just the fifth Indian athlete to win a medal at the World U20 Athletics Championships. It was India’s first Worlds medal in the race walk event. This was medal No 6 in the history of the championships for India. The second silver after Seema Antil (discus) in 2002. Neeraj Chopra and Hima Das have won gold.

Later in the evening, Priya Habbathanahalli Mohan came up with a personal best time of 52.77 seconds in the women’s 400m final but was beaten to the podium by Kenya’s Sylvia Chelangat by 0.54 seconds. Priya’s time was an improvement on her previous best of 53.29 seconds she registered in winning the National Inter-State Athletics Championships in Patiala on June 28.

India's medals at U20 World Athletics

2002 - Jamaica  Seema Antil  Discus Throw Women  Silver  55.83m 
2014 - USA  Navjeet Kaur Dhillon  Discus Throw Women  Bronze  56.36m 
2016 - Poland  Neeraj Chopra  Javelin Throw Men  Gold  86.48m 
2018 - Finland  Hima Das  400m Women  Gold  51.46s 
2021 - Nairobi  Barath, Priya, Kapil and Summy  Mixed 4x400m   Bronze  3:20.60s
2021 - Nairobi Amit Khatri Men's 10,000 race walk Silver 42:17.94s

“As it’s a high altitude, there was a breathing problem for me. It was my first international competition and I won silver for India. I’m happy with silver, at least I could fulfil the hopes of India,” Amit was quoted as saying by the Athletics Federation of India soon after the race.

Amit, who had the world-leading time of 40:40.97 this season, led the race with just one lap remaining but he decided to take a trip to the drinks table and that allowed Kenya’s Heristone Wanyonyi to take the lead, pull away and win the gold medal eventually.

Amit’s coach Chandan Singh said the Kenyan rival had the advantage as he knows the local high altitude conditions.

“I feel Amit could have won the gold but the high altitude conditions had affected him. The Kenyan was training in those home conditions and it was advantageous to him. Amit was leading for most part of the race but the Kenyan took a sudden lead with around one and half laps to go. Amit could not anticipate that and could not catch up him up,” Chandan told PTI from the Army Sports Institute in Pune.

Chandan, who has been with Amit since 2018, said he had put his ward for high altitude training for five months last year in Nainital and Mukteshwar in Uttarakhand after it became known that Nairobi will host the World U-20 Championships.

It was India’s second medal at the championships after the mixed 4x400 relay team won bronze earlier.

India’s Baljeet Kaur finished seventh in the women’s 10,000 race walk final.

The 19-year-old started strongly and had a big lead in the early stages of the race, but she couldn’t hold on and was caught up by the chasing group. She seemed to be slowing down but picked up pace eventually to finish a creditable seventh in though conditions.

Coming into the race, Baljeet had a personal best of 49:50.71, but she improved that to 48:58.17 on Saturday.

In Heat 2 of the men’s 4x400 relay event, India finished last as Kenya took the top position. The Indian team of Chahal, Kapil, Sridhar and Cherankulangara Rasheed registered a season best timing of 3:10.62 but they finished sixth and didn’t qualify for the final.

In the afternoon session on Saturday, India’s Rohan Kamble came close to his personal best (52.49 seconds) but finished seventh in the men’s 400m hurdles semi-finals. The 19-year-old registered a timing of 52.88 seconds and couldn’t qualify for the final.

International wrap

Olympic silver medallist Christine Mboma, who is unable to compete at certain events due to controversial rules over testosterone levels, won the women’s 200m at the World Under-20 Championships in a world record time of 21.84sec on Saturday.

Her fellow Namibian Beatrice Masilingi, who is also classified as having differences in sexual development (DSD) with naturally high testosterone levels, finished second in 22.18sec with Nigeria’s Favour Ofili third in 22.23sec.

Under World Athletics rules, Mbomba and Masilingi’s rare physiology is deemed to give them an unfair competitive advantage in track events ranging between 400m and one mile.

Earlier, France’s Sasha Zhoya broke the men’s under-20s 110m hurdles world record for a second time in 24 hours.

Zhoya, 19, who was born in Australia to a Zimbabwean father and French mother, ran 12.72sec to claim gold which improved his semi-final time on Friday by 0.21sec.

“I’m very happy, the job is done, since last year it was the objective I gave myself,” Zhoya told World Athletics.

“Today in the warm-up I had some pain in the hips. It’s difficult but the life of an athlete is to manage that,” he added.

Jamaica’s Vashaun Vascianna finished in second place with a time of 13.2sec with Poland’s Jakub Szymanski third on 13.43sec, with the pair running personal bests.

(With AFP and PTI inputs)