New Delhi: National record holder Irfan Kolothum Thodi Sunday became the first Indian from athletics to qualify for the next year’s Olympics while finishing fourth in the 20 km event of the Asian Race Walking Championships in Nomi, Japan. The 29-year-old Irfan clocked 1 hour 20 minutes and 57 seconds to better the Tokyo Olympics qualification standard of 1 hour 21 minutes.
The Olympics qualification period for race walk events and marathon race has begun from January 1 this year and will run till May 31, 2020. The Olympics qualification period for all other athletics events will start from May 1 this year and will run till June 29, 2020. No other Indian from athletics has so far qualified for Tokyo Olympics.
Irfan, who has a personal best as well as national record of 1:20:21 which he did during his 10th place finish in 2012 Olympics, also qualified for this year’s World Championships (September 27-October 6) in Doha, Qatar as he bettered the qualifying mark of 1:22:30. The Kerala race walker had won the 20 km event in the National Open Race Walk Championships in Chennai last month with a time of 1:26:18.
He was one of the two Indian athletes who were expelled from the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games for not adhering to the ‘no needle policy’ of the Games. He was disqualified in the 20 km race walk event of the 2018 Asian Games after receiving his third warning for loss of contact. Japan’s Toshikazu Yamanishi won the 20 km race walk event with an impressive time of 1:17:15.