Tokyo Olympic-bound KT Irfan on Friday failed to impress the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) at the SAI South Center in Bengaluru. AFI decided to put Irfan and Bhawna Jat under trial to prove their fitness for the upcoming games. Bhawna managed to meet the minimum standard but Irfan came up with a below-par performance.
The tests were held under the supervision of AFI senior vice-president Anju Bobby George. As per the set standards, Bhawna had to cross the finish line in 46 minutes, while Irfan had to walk 10km in 42 minutes.
According to the Times of India report, Bhawna finished the race in the allotted time. KT Irfan, though, just missed the mark.
“The due were put through specific time trials. Bhawna completed 10km in 46 minutes. But Irfan took over a minute to finish it. He crossed the line in just over 42 minutes.
What happens to KT Irfan’s Tokyo Olympics place?
KT Irfan was the first Indian athlete to punch his Tokyo Olympics ticket in March 2019 at the Asian Championships in Nomi, Japan. But since then he has not competed much. There has been a dip in the Kerela-born racewalker’s performance since his qualification for the Tokyo Olympics.
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Experts told TOI that they weren’t expecting to see such a drop in KT Irfan’s performance.
“An athlete doing the first 10km of the men’s race in 42 minutes will probably end up clocking in the range of one and half hours to finish the race at the Games. Indian athletes rarely improve their time,” they were quoted by TOI as saying.
AFI President Adille Sumariwalla clearly said there is no place for unfit athletes in the team for the Tokyo Olympics.
“It is not any qualification trial. They just have to prove their fitness. We cannot take unfit athletes to an event like Tokyo Olympics,” he had told Sportskeeda.
So, is it game over for KT Irfan?
Not for now. If officials present at the trial feel a need to review the performance, the AFI will constitute a committee.
Also Read: Complete list of Indian athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics 2020
In addition to Anju, the trials were also monitored by SAI officials, including high performance director Sanju Joseph, and six technical officials from the Karnataka Athletics Association.
“We will follow due process. It will be very basic. If still one fails, and the supervisor think a discussion has to be done, we will quickly setup a committee and take the final call,” said AFI President Sumariwalla.
Meanwhile, long jumper Murali Sreeshankar is scheduled to prove his fitness on July 21.
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