Race walker KT Irfan is unlikely to find a place in the national preparatory camp scheduled to start in the second week of October. Irfan’s below par performance in men’s 20km race walk at the Tokyo Olympics could be one of the reasons for his name not being among the list of probables from the next national camp, said a source in the Athletics Federation of India (AFI).
While Irfan failed to find a place in the AFI’s exhaustive list of probables for the 2022 season, several youngsters who showcased their potential during the recently-concluded National U23 Athletics Championships have been shortlisted for the national camp.
The AFI’s main focus in 2022 will be the Commonwealth and Asian Games. The prestigious Eugene World Athletics Championships also feature in the 2022 season.
The AFI wasn’t satisfied with Irfan’s pre-Olympic Games performance. The 31-year-old Army athlete couldn’t raise the level of his performance in Tokyo, finishing a disappointing 51st.
The former national record holder will have to work hard to find a place in the national team, said a national coach.
KT Irfan had finished 10th in London
Irfan clocked 1:20:21, a national record, at the 2012 London Olympic Games, where he finished 10th overall.
In the buildup to the Tokyo Olympics, Irfan was the first Indian athlete to have qualified for the Games. However, a bout of COVID-19 and injury earlier this year hampered Irfan's performance during the Tokyo Olympic Games.
India’s six-member national team, including two in the women’s 20km race walking event, competed at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Priyanka Goswami finished a creditable 17th in women’s 20km while Sandeep Kumar was 23rd in the men’s 20km race.
Race walking is one of the AFI’s main disciplines which the national body has been focusing on to have podium finishes at the continental and world level. But the national team failed to win a medal at the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games.
With several youngsters in the pre-national camp for the 2022 Asian Games, it has raised hopes of a good performance in the future.
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“Amit Kharti, World U20 silver medalist in the 10km race walk, will be one to watch in the next season,” said a national coach.