Nairobi, Aug 21: A silver medal-winning show at the World U-20 Championships has boosted confidence of race walker Amit Khatri, who now wants to replicate his success at the big stage -- the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games next year.
Son of a havildar-ranked Indian defence force personnel, Khatri clocked 42 minutes 17.94 seconds to finish behind host country's Heristone Wanyoni (42:10.84) in men's 10000m race on Saturday.
This was India's only sixth medal in U20 World Championships. Seema Antil (bronze in discus throw, 2002), Navjeet Kaur Dhillon (bronze in discus throw, 2014), Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra (gold in javelin throw, 2016) and Hima Das (gold in 400m, 2018) were the medal winners earlier before the mixed 4x400m relay team win a bronze in this edition on Wednesday.
"I learnt a lot from this championships, got one warning also (during race). I will now work hard for Commonwealth Games and Asian Games next year," the 17-year-old from Ismaila village in Haryana's Rohtak district said at a virtual press conference.
The 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou in China is expected to have 20km race walk event and Khatri's personal coach has told PTI that his ward will start training for the event later this year to be able to compete in the national championship early next year.
But the 2022 Birmingham CWG will have 10000m (track event just like in this U20 World Championship) race walk event instead of 20km event. Khatri had come into the championships as world number one in U20 rankings but he could not produce his best as his Kenyan rival pulled ahead of him with less than two laps left in the race to win the gold.
"It was my first international event and so I was nervous. It was everything first time for me, the opponents, the conditions. My mind was disturbed and suddenly he overtook me and I could not catch him.
"I was facing breathing problems because of high altitude and also I lost time while going for water bottle at water points, it slipped from my hands. But for these things, I would have won the gold."
He said Olympic champion javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra began with a gold in the junior world championships and he had also wanted to do the same.
Asked about any strategy chalked out before the race, he said, "There was no particular strategy. I had come here to win a medal but wanted a gold. There was no target time in mind. It was home conditions for the Kenyan and I was facing breathing problems at the high altitude conditions here."
Khatri said he was not good at studies and so he wanted to pick up sport when he was young. "I started with running but later found race walking to my liking. I joined CS Rathi academy (at Bahadurgarh) and now I am with Chandan Singh (former India race walker) sir as coach."
Considering Khatri's humble family background, Chandan requested the Sports Authority of India to include his ward in the Target Olympic Podium Scheme development group. Asked about this, Khatri simply said, "It will be good if it happens."