NOMI (JAPAN). National Race Walking Champion KT Irfan of India finished fourth with the timing of 1 hour 20 minutes and 57 seconds in the 20km event of the Asian Race Walking Championships on Sunday in Nomi, Japan and qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and IAAF World Championships 2019. He is the first Indian athlete from athletics to qualify for the 2020 Olympics.
The Olympics qualification period for 20km Race Walking commenced from 1st January 2019 and is set at 1:21:00.
Irfan, who holds the 20km Race Walking National Record with his personal best timing of 1:20.21 which he clocked at 2012 London Olympics, said after the competition, “Mentally, I am feeling relaxed now. It is good that I have achieved the Olympics qualification mark very early in the season. There is more than a year now to train and prepare for the Olympics,”
“Today it was raining constantly here in Nomi and it was cold. I could not warm-up properly because of cold and was a bit slow in first two laps else my target was to finish in first three,” said Irfan.
Japan’s Toshikazu Yamanishi won the competition with the time of 1:17:15 while Kazakhstan’s GeorgiySheiko (1:20.21) finished second and Korea’s Byeongkwang Choe (1:20:40) secured the third place.
Irfan had won the 20 km event in the National Open Race Walk Championships in Chennai last month with a time of 1:26:18 and qualified for the Nomi competition.
Along with Irfan, two other Indian race walkers Devender Singh (1:21.22) and Ganapathi (1:22.12) also qualified for the IAAF World Championships to be held in Doha from 28 September-6 October 2019.