Manju Rani and Ram Baboo, India’s famed race walkers, etched their names in the record books by clinching a bronze medal in the newly-introduced 35km mixed team event on Wednesday at the 2018 Asian Games.
Rani and Baboo, both acknowledged national record holders in their respective categories, collaborated for a remarkable effort, recording a total time of 5 hours 51 minutes and 14 seconds. Their remarkable performance left them third, following only China, who won gold with a time of 5:16:41, and Japan, who took silver with a record of 5:22:11.
The medal recipients in the 35km race walk mixed team event are determined by the combined finishing timings of the male and female athletes. This novel structure emphasises the athletes’ synchrony and collaboration.
The 35km race walk mixed team event made its Asian Games debut this year and is expected to compete in the 2024 Paris Olympics, demonstrating its rising worldwide appeal. India, too, has lately accepted this format, having introduced it locally a few years before.
In terms of individual accomplishments, Ram Baboo, 24, finished his leg in 2:42:11, securing fourth place in the men’s race. Earlier in March, he established the national record for the men’s 35km race walk with a timing of 2:29:56. This extraordinary talent had already demonstrated his worth by winning a gold medal in the previous year’s National Games and ruling supreme in the national championships held in February.
His qualifications also include a respectable 27th place result at the World Championships in Budapest in August.
Similarly, Manju Rani, also 24, finished her race in 3:09:03, enough for sixth place. She owns the national record, recording 2:57:54 in her triumph at the national race walk championships in February of this year. Rani’s trophy cabinet also has a gold medal from the June National Inter-State Championships.
In conclusion, the introduction of the 35km race walk mixed team event at the Asian Games, as well as its imminent debut in the Paris Olympics, demonstrates the changing character of international sports. The future of Indian race walking seems bright as competitors like Manju Rani and Ram Baboo continue to succeed and inspire.
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