New Delhi, March 15 : Uttar Pradesh’s Savita Pal was buoyant on winning her maiden senior women’s 10,000 metres race at the Senior National Federation Cup athletics in Patiala on Monday.
The 21-year-old athlete clocked 33 minutes 59.35 seconds to win the race, but her performance was nearly 3.5 minutes slower than the Tokyo Olympic Games qualification time of 31 minutes 25 seconds.
Expressing her satisfaction on winning her first 10,000m track race, Savita said she could have done better, but couldn’t train hard due to pandemic.
“Since the nationwide lockdown started in March last year, I hardly trained properly. With the hope to train hard I shifted to Ranchi in March last year, before the lockdown. But I couldn’t train as I had expected as the stadium was closed due to Covid-19. With no track workout I couldn’t judge my pace, otherwise I could have run much faster today,” Savita told IANS.
After staying with the leading group consisting of seasoned runners like Sanjivani Babur Jadhav of Maharashtra for major part of the 25-lap race, Savita made a decisive move for home in the last 300 metres. Sanjivani finished second with a time of 34 minutes 01.26 seconds. Kavita Yadav of Uttar Pradesh clocked 34 minutes 04.45 seconds to win third spot in the field of eight runners.
In the men’s 10,000m event, there were two heats as the number of athletes was 33. The top eight athletes in each of the heats were selected for Tuesday’s final. The male distance runners were unhappy to have final within 24 hours. “The final should have been after a two days gap as it will be difficult to recover from Monday’s qualification race,” said one of the finalists.
Abhishek Pal of Uttar Pradesh was the fastest runner in the heats with a time of 30 minutes 31.17 seconds. Gujarat’s Asian bronze medalist Murali Kumar Gavit is another prominent runner in the final.
The Olympic qualification time is 27 minutes 28 seconds for the men’s 10,000m while the national record of 28 minutes of 28 minutes 02.89 seconds was set in 2008 by Surendra Singh in Spain.