17-year-old Amit Khatri won a silver in the men’s 10,000 meters race event at the ongoing U-20 Worlds athletic championship in Nairobi on Saturday.
This is India’s second medal at the U-20 Worlds after the mixed 4x400m relay team had won a bronze on the first day on Wednesday. Amit finished the race in a stunning time of 42 minutes and 17.94 seconds to finish second behind Heristone Wanyoni from Kenya (42:10.84).
Amit Khatri is the first Indian athlete to win a medal at the U-20 World Athletics Championship. Khatri is also a national record holder.
Amit was leading after the 9000-meter mark; however, with less than two laps left in the race, local athlete Wayoni pulled ahead to win gold with a personal best time. Paul McGrath of Spain won the bronze with a timing of 42:26.11 minutes.
Race Walker Amit Khatri
During this race, Khatri couldn’t beat his personal best of 40:40.97, which he had recorded while winning gold during the Federation Cup Junior National Championships in January.
“It was my first international meet, and competing at the high altitude made it more difficult. But I made a few mistakes at the water point; my mind got disturbed, which cost me the gold. But it was a great experience, and going forward, it will help me. The home advantage also helped the Kenyan who trains on the same ground. I was also worried about committing fouls.” said Khatri.
Nairobi is at an altitude of around 1800m from sea level. According to Khatri, the high altitude of the Kenyan capital affected his performance in the race as he struggled for breath during the race.
“Even though I came here five days before the event to acclimatize, the high altitude affected me. At some point in the race, I could not breathe properly, but I am happy with the silver.” Khatri added.
The U-20 Worlds was the athlete’s first international competition, and Khatri’s coach Chandan Singh also said that the Kenyan rival had the advantage as he knows the local high altitude conditions.
Coach Chandan Singh told PTI, “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 the most part of the race, but the Kenyan took a sudden lead with around one and a half laps to go. Amit could not anticipate that and could not catch up with him”.
Chandan has been Khatri’s coach since 2018 and mentioned that he had put his ward for high altitude training for five months after it was known that Nairobi would host the World U-20 Championships.
The rigorous high-altitude training during snowy days in Nation battled the Covid19 pandemic helped Khatri to win a silver medal at the World Athletics U-20 Championships on a chilly morning in Nairobi on Saturday.