The coronavirus outbreak has jeopardized a number of athletes’ chances of qualifying for the 2020 Olympics and the latest to join the list are the Indian race walkers, who are faced with one last shot at qualifying at the IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships.
The tournament is scheduled to begin in Belarus on May 2, giving the Indian race walkers’ team some time to prepare but they could have confirmed their spot for India at Olympics 2020 at the Asian Race Walking Championships at Tokyo in March.
However, the event was cancelled due to the menace of the coronavirus, leading to added pressure on the Indian race walkers.
“We were optimistic for another three or four athletes to qualify for Tokyo,” Volker Herrmann, the high-performance director for the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) told The New Indian Express.
“Priyanka Goswami was really close at the nationals in Ranchi. Sandeep Kumar and two other boys were looking good as well. We already checked for other opportunities. But right now, the situation does not look good.”
Priyanka Goswami was in fine fettle at the 7th National Race Walking Championships a few weeks back where she managed a timing of 1:31:36.00 to finish second in the 20km race behind Bhawna Jat, who went on to seal her place at the 2020 Olympics.
Herrmann also revealed that they were supposed to attend a training camp in Europe around the same time as the World Team Championships, but it may not be held after all.
There will be at least three Indian race walkers at the tournament, with two more to travel as a back-up.
Currently, Bhawna Jat is the only racewalker to confirm her spot for India at Olympics 2020 after she broke the national record at the 7th National Open Racewalking Championships last month, and also surpassed the 2020 Olympics qualification time by over a minute.