37th National Games: Uttarakhand race walker Suraj Panwar stamps his class on his comeback trail
Panaji (Goa): On a comeback trail after missing the Hangzhou Asian Games due to a lower back injury, Uttarakhand race walker Suraj Panwar stamped his authority on the field in the men’s 20km race walk event of the 37th National Games.
In a dramatic finish, Panwar edged past Servin of Services to claim gold with a time of 1:27:43.00, while Servin clocked 1:27:44.00 for silver. Haryana’s Hardeep took home bronze in 1:28:77.00.
Panwar said the gold medal is important to boost his confidence as he had missed major international competitions in 2023 due to lower back pain.
“I won silver in the previous edition of the National Games in Gujarat. I badly wanted to win gold here in Goa,” Panwar said after improving the colour of the medal in Goa. “The race was close. But this time I didn’t let the opportunity slip from my hands.”
Panwar was one of the four male race walkers who had achieved the Hangzhou Asian Games qualification time in the men’s 20km, but a lower back injury kept him away from competitions for four months- — March to June this year. It resulted in him missing out on major 2023 international competitions, including the recently concluded Hangzhou Asian Games.
Initially, he was advised four weeks of complete rest. Later, medical experts and physio chalked out a different plan. It was a combination of rehabilitation and moderate training routine to recover the lost ground. “It was psychologically challenging for me as my competitors were miles ahead while I was still struggling to strengthen my basic fitness,” the 23-year-old international racewalker said.
On Monday morning here on the streets of Goa, Panwar dug deep into his reserve to make his presence felt. “My next goal is to stay healthy and aim for a good performance during next year’s domestic circuit,” Panwar added.
According to Panwar he has recovered from a lower back injury and is looking ahead to a bright 2024 race walking season.
The 2024 National Race Walking Championships in February will be one of the main domestic competitions that will give opportunity to Panwar to further cement his place in the national team.
“In 2023 I narrowly missed the Paris Olympic Games qualification in the 20km race walk. But next year I will give my best to clinch the berth and sustain my performance,” Panwar said before heading for his morning breakfast.