After missing the 2016 Games through injury, the 31-year-old is determined to do well in Tokyo this year.
Hailing from Malappuram district in Kerala, KT Irfan will be seen participating in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. A non-commissioned officer of the Indian Army, he has achieved multiple accomplishments throughout his sports career. He was also part of the Indian contingent in the 2012 London Olympics, however, finished 10th.
KT Irfan also qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics, but a stress fracture held him from competing in the quadrennial event in the previous edition. He was later suspended from the 2018 Commonwealth Games for violating the no needle policy.
Here are the five most memorable moments from the racewalker’s career.
5. Gold at Federation Cup Senior Athletic Championship
KT Irfan struck Gold in the Federation Cup Senior Athletic Championship in 2012, clocking a personal best of 1:22:09. The event took place in Patiala and it helped him announce himself as a name to be reckoned with in Indian sports.
Coming from a modest family in Malappuram, Irfan showed his undaunting spirit with this victory. Moreover, his training under Subedar Ramkumar in the Madras Regiment Centre also helped him hone his skills.
4. 2013 IAAF World Racewalking Challenge
KT Irfan finished fifth in the World Racewalking Challenge organized in Taicang, China in 2013. He finished the race with a timing of 1:20:59.
Going up against the best athletes in the world, including the 2012 Olympic medalists, he showed his capability as one of the top challengers.
Irfan used to wake up at 5:00 am every morning to start his day. The Malappuram native started his morning with a one kilometer running warm up followed by 5km walk warm up. On top of that it also included body stretching and other physical training.
IAAF honored KT Irfan with an invite remembering his achievement in the Olympics and he made the most of it. The racewalker won prize money of $700 despite reaching the event only 10 hours prior. Moreover, he was in the middle of a strength training session when he got the call. It was truly spectacular achievement.
3. Qualified for three straight Olympic Games
KT Irfan holds the impressive feat of qualifying for three Olympics on the trot. He finished fourth at the Asian Racewalking Championship to book his spot in the Tokyo Olympics. He finished his race at 1:20:57. However with the Olympics being postponed to 2021 there was a lot of concern about it’s commencement. On top of that there were doubts as to what would it mean for the qualified athletes. Would the IOC redo the qualifications in this current scenario?
Thankfully none of that happened. International Olympic Committee (IOF) President Thomas Bach confirmed that the qualifications will stand. KT also heaved a sigh of relief with this announcement.
Prior to the Tokyo Olympics KT had also successfully qualified for the London and Rio Olympics in 2012 and 2016 respectively. He finished 10th overall in London.
However, he missed out on the Rio Olympics in 2016 even though he had successfully made the cut. An old hamstring injury ended his dreams that year.
2. 2017 Asian Racewalking Championship (Bronze medalist)
KT Irfan made the nation proud as he bagged a bronze in the Asian Racewalking Championship in Nomi, Japan. The ‘Malappuram Express’ finished his race and had a timing of 1:20:59. He finished his run right behind Georgiy Sheiko.
He was behind by just 11 seconds from his Kazakh rival. Irfan also became the second Indian to win a medal for India in this category. Gurpal Singh had won the country gold the year prior.
1. Created a national record at the 2012 London Olympics
KT Irfan set a national record in the 2012 London Olympics. In the 20 km walk he got a timing of 1:20:21 and finished 10th. The race took place along the Mall and Constitution Hill in central London. Irfan finished the race a minute behind Wang Zhen of China.
Speaking of his experience in London Olympics Irfan described his lack of technique and fitness in the last five kilometers. “Race walking is a very technical event,” he added in his interview.
However in his second Olympic stint KT Irfan is more determined. He believes he has learnt on his mistakes and prepared himself accordingly. The confident racewalker is determined of turning things around this year.