Kochi: National record holder Babu Bhai of Services lived upto his reputation to win the gruelling 20km Walk on the third day of the 50th National Open Athletics Championship here.
Thirty two-year old Babu Bhai, a Havildar, retained the title he won in the previous edition at Bhopal, clocking 1 hr 33.22 secs.
He edged out teammate Harvinder Singh by 14 secs, who clocked 1 hr 33.36 secs. Madhya Pradesh’s K Somendra Singh settled for bronze with a timing of 1 hr 34.43 secs.
Babu led from the start and maintained the lead to clinch the gold. Second place was a close contest till three laps from the end, when Harvinder increased his pace to outwit Somendra.
An elated Babu Bhai, whose best timing was 1 hrs 23.06 secs, told reporters that hot and humid weather conditions here had affected his performance.
“The event began under pleasant weather condition, but sudden rain midway affected my performance. Prior to this championship I was in Himachal Pradesh for training. The sudden change from cold condition to hot and humid weather also hindered my performance,” Babu Bhai said.
He said he did not exert much under these conditions, as suggested by his coach.
Ten finals including the high jump, 100 M hurdles, javelin throw in women’s section and pole vault, discus throw in the Men’s category are scheduled in the evening.