New Delhi: Soumya B set a new national record en route to winning a gold medal in the women’s 20 km event at the Enerzal National Race Walking Championships in the capital on Sunday. Soumya produced a blistering finish in the final lap of the race to cross the finish line in 1:31:28.72 seconds. In doing so she beat the previous mark of 1:31:40.00 set by Khushbir Kaur in Taicang in 2014.Also Read - Hockey India Withdraws From 2022 Birmingham CWG; Cites COVID Concerns, Discriminatory Quarantine Rules

Soumya’s surge, in fact, saw her overtaking Kaur who had led the field in each of the previous 19 laps of the race. The win was the biggest for Soumya who slashed nearly 10 minutes off her previous best time of 1:41:04 recorded at the National Inter-State athletics championships last year. Also Read - Fruitful Meeting But Proposal of Withdrawal From 2022 CWG Still Stands: Narinder Batra

Post her win, Soumya told ANI, “I didn’t think of setting a record, I came with an aim to qualify for the Commonwealth Games (CWG).” Also Read - After India's Boycott Threat, Britain Considering Option of Hosting Separate CWG Shooting Event in 2022

CWG is a big challenge. India will be watching me and I will have to do well there. I am training under Russian coach and hoping for a medal in the Games,” she added of the Commonwealth Games which is slated to be held from April 4 to April 15 in Australia.

Kaur finished second with a time of 1:32:16.96 seconds. In third place was Khushbir’s sister Karamjit Kaur who clocked 1:34:08.60 seconds.

Kaur said, “My main focus in today’s event was to qualify for the Commonwealth Games. My training for the Games is going well and I hope I’ll do good and win a gold medal for the country there.”

“My target is to finish near one hour 27 minutes or one hour 28 minutes. I could have done better today but I had no pacer in front of me as I was leading the race. So there is no motivation until you have a competition. I had an injury due to which I secured silver,” she added.

In the men’s 20km event, KT Irfan pipped Manish Rawat.

Irfan, who first put race walk on the map in India with his 10th place finish at the London Olympics, clocked 1:21:31:25 to claim gold.

In the second place, Rawat, who had finished 13th at the Rio Olympics, clocked in 1:23:31.72 seconds. Neeraj of Haryana completed the podium with a time of 1:21:39.20. All three walkers finished inside the AFI’s qualification standard for the Commonwealth Games of 1:23:00 seconds.

(With ANI inputs)