Olympians Khusbir, Irfan to headline race walking Nationals

New Delhi, Feb 12 (IANS) Olympian race walkers Khushbir Kaur and Irfan Kolothun Thodi will on Sunday headline the women’s and men’s campaign in the 5th National Race Walking Championship here, which will also act as a qualification for the upcoming Commonwealth and Asian Games.

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) on Monday announced that around 80 of India’s best race-walkers in both men’s and women’s categories will face-off in the 20 KM race vying for qualification for both the Commonwealth and Asian Games, scheduled to be held later this year.

The Commonwealth Games is scheduled from April 4-15, while the Asiad is to run from August 18 to September 2.

Manish Rawat is the other prominent male walker besides Irfan while the women’s field includes the likes of Soumya B, Priyanka Kumari, Ravina, Shanty Kumary, Deepmala Devi along side Khushbir.

The race-walkers will battle it out to get to the requisite qualification mark for the two quadrennial events. The qualification benchmark for the Commonwealth Games has been pegged at 1:22:00 for men, while for women it is set at 1:35:00.

The qualification benchmark for the Asiad has been set at 1:22:00 for men, while for women it is fixed at 1:34:54.

AFI Secretary General, C.K. Valson, who will be one of the guests of honour on race day was hopeful of witnessing some top-notch athletes in action.

“One of the key aspects of a National championship is the opportunity to spot some real talent. This year the field looks really strong and we have been fortunate to have the championship right before major Games,” he said.

The other dignitaries likely to grace the National championships are Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Treasurer Anandeshwar Pandey, Olympic Gymnast Dipa Karmakar, Olympian and AFI Selection Committee Chairman J.S. Randhawa and Rahul Bhatnagar, Secretary, Sports Authority of India (SAI).

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