Indian race walkers eyeing Tokyo berth

Chennai hosts an exclusive International invitational race walking tournament in February which will be an opportunity for Indians to make the cut for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the World championships to be held in Doha.

Star walker K.T. Irfan is expected to participate in Chennai's International invitational race walking tournament.   -  H. Vibhu

Chennai will host an exclusive International invitational race walking (20km) tournament scheduled to be held on February 16 and 17. 

The event which will have all the leading Indian athletes, may also see second rung walkers from China, Japan, Korea and Australia take part.

The tournament will have three more events apart from the International meet. There will be an U-20 event (20K) for both boys and girls, the National championship (50K) only for men, and 10K for U-18 boys and girls. On February 16, both the International and the U-20 events will be organised while on February 17, the men’s Nationals will be conducted.

READ: Rajyavardhan Rathore urges athletes to play the right way

There will be prize money for all the four events, with the exact amount due to be announced later. 

Top Indian stars including K. T. Irfan, Manish Singh Rawat, Eknath Sambhaji, Sandeep Kumar, Ravina, Soumya Baby, Shanti Kumari, among others, are expected to participate. 

The International event and the Nationals will be an opportunity for Indians to make the cut for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the World championships to be held in Doha between September 27 and October 6 next year for both 20K and 50K disciplines. Also, there will be nine International officials to boot in Chennai.

C.K. Valson, Secretary of the Athletics Federation of India, told Sportstar , “We have identified race walking as one of the events which could fetch us a medal at the Olympics. Moreover, Asian countries like China and Japan are some of the top countries in race walking. With our athletes competing with them, it will improve their timings. I hope a few of them (Indians) qualify from this event here."