The 30-year-old Irfan qualified for his second Olympics after finishing fourth in the 20 km race walk event in the Asian Race Walking Championship last year.“It’s good that it (Tokyo Games) got postponed. We can take this as a base to train more and get closer to win a medal. Race Walking is a technical event, so I will get time to focus on it more, this will help us do better next year,” Irfan told PTI in an exclusive interaction.
Asked about his target in the Tokyo Olympics, he said, “My main aim is to win a medal. In Rio Olympics, I had injured myself, in London also I had chance of winning a medal.
Irfan finished 10th in the 2012 London Olympics with a national record time of 1 hour 20 minute 21 seconds. He did not qualify for 2016 Olympics. If I work harder there is chance of getting a medal. I have mentally prepared myself and am strong with the aim of winning a medal,” said Irfan.
The country is under a 21-day lockdown due to the worsening COVID-19 pandemic which has led to the death of over 90,000 people worldwide and 199 in India. Just like any other athlete, Irfan is confined to his hostel at the SAI Centre in Bengaluru as nobody can train outside. “There was a good place to train outside the campus where I used to train. But we aren’t allowed to go outside the campus because of the lockdown,” said the athlete from Kerala.
“We have been asked to train alone and not in groups. We do skipping etc in the room, and sometimes go out in the campus to practice the walk. For now this is what we are doing,” he said. Irfan disclosed that his family was initially unaware that he was into athletics but later supported him throughout. My family was unaware of a sport like this. We were economically weak, we didn’t have money to spend. My family eventually found out about my race walking through my friends but my family have supported me the most,” he added.
Irfan thanked the Adani Group for their support. “Adani Group has supported a lot, before that I had no one to help me. From training to nutrition to vitamins, everything they have provided me with and that too it’s one phone call away,” he signed off.