The 50km race walk is the longest race event at the Olympic Games in terms of distance. Nearly 8km longer than the marathon, it is contested only by men, while there will be men’s and women’s events both for the 20km race walk.
Race walking is much harder and complicated than running. The pace is fast, but the competitors must have one foot in contact with the ground at all times, and when an athlete’s foot touches the ground, the knee should be straight as the body passes over it. Athletes are penalised for breaking either rule.
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During the course of the race, a maximum of three warnings will be given by the judges, and the chief judge will raise a red paddle to indicate that an athlete has been disqualified at the third penalty.
During the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, China took top honours in the 20km race walk, with Wang Zhen and Liu Hong winning men’s and women’s events, respectively. Slovakia’s Matej Toth won the men’s 50km race walk.
From India, three men – K. T. Irfan, Sandeep Kumar, Rahul Rohila – and two women racewalkers – Priyanka Goswami and Bhawna Jat – have qualified for Tokyo.
The men’s 20km race walk is scheduled to take place on August 6 at 4:30 pm Tokyo time (1:00 pm India time). The men’s 50km race walk will begin at 5:30 am (2:00pm India time), while the women’s 20km race walk will begin at 4:30 pm local time (1:00pm India time).