Baljinder stripped of 12th place

Indian walks a lap short; Lopez bags gold

India’s Baljinder Singh was stripped of his 12th place in the men’s 20km walk at the 15th World Championships in athletics after he was found to have walked a lap short.

Baljinder, for a few hours at least, was the best Indian walker in Sunday’s race, timing one hour 21 minutes and 44 seconds, a career-best show. Behind Baljinder, Gurmeet Singh, the national record holder, finished 36th, timing 1:25:22 while Chandan Singh, the third Indian entry, was 42nd in 1:26:40.

After the race, Gurmeet felt Baljinder might have walked a lap less. “I was well ahead of him, I don’t know how he got in front and finished 12th,” said Gurmeet.

The Indian camp was a bit confused but the official result confirmed Baljinder’s placing and with no protest from any quarters, the result stayed. However, more than six hours after the contest ended, the officials finally realised their blunder and revised the result, giving a DNF (Did Not Finish) against the Indian’s name and promoting the others by a spot.

A look at the split timings had confirmed the mistake. Baljinder was in 46th place after the first five kilometres. He was 47th at the half-way stage and after 15 kilometres, he was placed 42nd in 1:03:57.

Baljinder then timed 17:47 in the final five kilometres to jump 30 places in front, an incredible performance, when even the gold medallist, Spain’s Miguel Angel Lopez, took 19:10 to cover the distance!

In fact, Baljinder’s was the quickest five-kilometre split among all the competitors on the day, revealing the extent of the error.

Strangely, no official spotted the lapse initially and the Indian walked away, so to say, with a higher placing than what he deserved, but only for a while.

Result: Men's 20km walk: Miguel Angel Lopez (Spain) 1:19:14, 1; Zhen Wang (China) 1:19:29, 2; Benjamin Thorne (Canada) 1:19:57, 3.

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