Tokyo Olympics 2020: After securing spot in Games, Bhawna Jat hopes for inclusion in TOPS

Bhawana Jat, who on Saturday booked a Tokyo Olympics berth in 20km race walk event after winning gold in the National Championships, said she is now hoping to be included in the government's Target Olympic Podium Scheme.

Press Trust of India February 15, 2020 18:47:48 IST
Tokyo Olympics 2020: After securing spot in Games, Bhawna Jat hopes for inclusion in TOPS
  • Bhawana Jat said she is now hoping to be included in the government's Target Olympic Podium Scheme.

  • The 23-year-old athleteclocked 1 hour 29 minutes and 54 seconds, well inside the Olympic qualification time of 1:31:00, to win the gold and break the two-year old national record.

  • Bhawana, who is currently posted as TTE (Train Ticket Examiner) in Kolkata, said she has been facing a lot of financial difficulties.

New Delhi: Bhawna Jat, who on Saturday booked a Tokyo Olympics berth in 20km race walk event after winning gold in the National Championships, said she is now hoping to be included in the government's Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS).

Tokyo Olympics 2020 After securing spot in Games Bhawna Jat hopes for inclusion in TOPS

Bhawna Jat booked a Tokyo Olympics berth in 20km race walk event after winning gold in the National Championships. Image Courtesy: Twitter @afiindia

The 23-year-old athlete, who hails from a poor farmer's family at Kabra village in Rajasthan's Rajsamand district, clocked one hour, 29 minutes and 54 seconds, well inside the Olympic qualification time of 1:31:00, to win the gold and break the two-year-old national record of 1:31:29 in the name of Delhi's Baby Soumya.

Bhawna's effort was a massive improvement of more than eight minutes from her personal best of 1:38.30s set in October last year during the National Open Championships. She also became only the second Indian woman to qualify for Olympics in 20km race walk after Khushbir Kaur, who competed in 2016 Rio Games.

Bhawna, who is currently posted as TTE (Train Ticket Examiner) in Kolkata, said she has been facing a lot of financial difficulties.

"I cannot take part in a National Championships without hard training. So, I was training in Jaipur with my coach (Gurmukh Singh) for the last three months. I was not allowed to go for training with pay and I am competing here on without pay," Bhawna told PTI from Ranchi.

"It is very difficult to compete at the senior level with a meagre income. I have to look after my parents and think about my training as well. I am hoping that I will be included in the Target Olympic Podium Scheme to be able to train properly for the Olympics," she added.

Bhawna said she faced a lot of financial difficulties during her early career.

"My father is a small farmer and my mother a housewife. I have one older and one younger brother and it was very difficult to run the family from my father's meagre income. I took up the Railways jobs only to help my father. It is very difficult for me to pursue athletics," she said.

Asked about her goal in the Tokyo Olympics, she said, "In 2016 Rio, the gold was won in 1:28:35s and bronze in 1:28:42s. So, if I make further improvement of a minute or so I can be in medal contention, you never know. I feel I can improve up to 1:27:00s in Tokyo. In any case, I will be happy if I finish in the top 10."

Bhawna, who currently trains on her own in Jaipur with her coach Gurmukh Sihag, has not taken part in any international event in junior or senior level. She also has never been in a national camp under the Athletics Federation of India (AFI).

She attributed her stunning performance to hard work under coach Gurmukh.

"I began athletics in 2010 and my physical education teacher told me to try race walking. I took it up and from there, I took part in the school nationals. After that I was at the SAI Bangalore under the government scheme," said Bhawna, who is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree through correspondence.

Before moving to Jaipur, Bhawna was training in Rohtak. She also trains under her earlier coach Harpreet Singh when in Kolkata.

Her coach Gurmukh said that Bhawana has given her dope sample, which means that her national record will be valid. An AFI official also said that dope sample collectors from the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) have taken samples from the athletes.

Bhawana's next competition will be the Asian Race Walk Championships in Japan on 15 March.

KT Irfan (men's 20km race walk), Avinash Sable (men's 3000m steeplechase), mixed 4x400m relay team and Neeraj Chopra (men's javelin) have already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics from athletics.

Priyanka Goswami narrowly missed the Olympic cut with a timing of 1:31.36s to win the silver in the 17-athlete field.

In the men's 20km race walk event, Sandeep Kumar of Services won the gold with a time of 1 hour 21 minutes and 34 seconds. He narrowly missed the Tokyo Olympics qualification time of 1:21:00s.

"I will try to further improve my timing if selected for the Asian Race Walk Championships next month in Japan and try to qualify for Tokyo Olympics," he said.

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