In the history of the Olympics, India has not had a medallist in athletics, though a few have come close. Indian race walker KT Irfan wants to change that record and is working hard on improving his technique to do it.
“Race walking is a very technical event,” he told The Times of India in an interview. “It’s your technique that helps you win a medal.
“You walk for 15 kilometres and then it’s your technique and plans that help you cover the rest of the 5 kilometres in race walking,” he said.
The Tokyo Olympics will be KT Irfan’s second Olympics appearance after London 2012, where he finished the 20km race walking event a minute behind bronze medallist Wang Zhen of China.
“When I went to the London Olympics, I was ranking between 4th and 5th up to 15 kilometres but lacked (technique and fitness) in the last five kilometres,” he recalled.
“I had a good learning experience in London and I have prepared myself in this period and learnt from my mistakes,” added KT Irfan, who clocked a national record, at the 2012 Olympics
“The medal was not that far from me,” he pointed out. “My target is to touch 1:19 and I am sure I will do that.”
Training in times of lockdown
The Indian race walker, who had also made the cut for the Rio 2016 Olympics but could not participate due to a stress fracture, is currently training at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) campus in Bengaluru.
The 30-year-old is also in touch with coach Alexander Artsybashev by phone and video calls.
He regularly interacts with his family back home in Kerala as well, and though he misses being away from home, his singular goal is what keeps driving him.
“COVID-19 may have disturbed the Olympics schedule, but we all have one more year to prepare ourselves. The postponement has not affected my routine and I have only one thing on my mind - winning a medal for my country.”