Almost a year after competing in her last race, Priyanka Goswami put up an impressive performance to break the national record for the Women’s 20km Race Walking event by clocking 1:28:45 at the National Race-Walking Championships in Ranchi on Saturday.

Competing at the same competition last year, Priyanka had missed the qualification mark by 34 seconds. However, CoVID-19 forced pandemic helped her gain the right amount of time to refocus herself mentally and physically. For a large period of the lockdown and amid the CoVID-19 restrictions over sports in the country last year, Priyanka stayed at the SAI facility in Bengaluru and trained with her coach Gurmeet Singh.

Breaching the 1 hour 31 minutes mark was the focus for over the last 24-months, and achieving the feat was a mix of emotions for the youngster. Speaking after the race she said, “Breaking the National Record was always in my mind, because if I did that then the Olympics qualifying mark was automatically breached as well. So, I’m very happy about it and it means a lot that I could do it today”. “During the race, my focus was solely on the split timings across 10km, 15km, etc and to make it into the 1 hour 28 minutes was the only thing running in my mind. My timings, my stopwatch, and my pace were the only things I focussed upon,” she said about her race today.

Since 2017, Priyanka has been a part of the GoSports Long-Term Athlete Development Programme supported by our partners – Sony Pictures Network India, Infosys Foundation, and R Systems, and through the programme she has been offered support across different areas to help her develop as an athlete over the years.

Ever since the previous edition of this competition, Priyanka’s focus has been on improving holistically by fine-tuning the smaller aspects of her sports lifestyle. To ensure that, the Foundation helped her with a full-fledged nutrition programme coupled with a smartwatch to help her monitor her intake and workout load, and have a customised plan such that her performance could be optimised.

Speaking about the pandemic and how she coped with the pressures that bought, she said, “Ever since the last competition and through the pandemic, we as athletes all had hope that sport will resume. That hope is what fuelled me throughout and taking part in my first competition after a year it’s really special”. Complementing this, she was also helped with a mental conditioning coach to help her sharpen her mental strengths towards excelling as a race walker and breaking her own personal best such that she could book her berth to the upcoming Tokyo Games that is scheduled to be held later this year. To up her game on the field, her coach was also helped with a bicycle such that he could continuously trail her on the track and share instant feedback such that she could also grow rapidly in the extended period of time she had over the course of last year.

The hard work over the last 18 months have paid huge dividends for her as today’s qualifying performance boosts her confidence and morale, and it also gives her sufficient time to focus on her preparation for the Tokyo Olympics. Speaking on this occasion, Deepthi Bopaiah, Executive Director of the Foundation said, “While the Long-Term Athlete Development Programme is designed to groom athletes for the 2024 Olympics, it is great to see Priyanka already exceeding such expectations.  We are proud of what she has been able to achieve in this difficult year. Despite the lack of competitions and disruptions in training, she has stuck to a plan and worked on the intangibles required to succeed at the highest level. However, the job is not done yet! We will continue to support her in this crucial period and ensure that she is in the best position to put on a good show at the Tokyo Games.”