The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) named a 10-member team for the 2014 IAAF World Race Walking Cup to be held at Taicang, China, on May 3 and 4.
The team was selected by the AFI selection committee, headed by Asian Games gold medallist Gurbachan Singh Randhawa. The team includes five men in 20km, four in 50km and a lone woman walker in the 20km event. The team departed on Wednesday night.
Indian walkers have registered impressive timings in the past few years. Men’s 20km national record holder K.T. Irfan finished 10th at the London Olympics while Gurmeet Singh and Khushbir Kaur won bronze in the men’s and women’s 20km events respectively at the Asian Race Walking Championship in Nomi, Japan, in March.
“The weather in China will be similar to Japan, where we did well. The World Race Walking Cup is the biggest championship this year and I’m sure we will do well in both the team and individual events,” Gurmeet said.
With 10 entries, India will have one of the largest contingents at the event. Host China leads with 27 competitors, followed by 22 from Spain, 21 each from Russia and Ukraine, 18 from Italy, 14 each from USA and Mexico and 13 from Portugal. Russian world champion Aleksandr Ivanov and China’s Olympic champion Chen Ding will be in action in the 20km event while Australia’s three-time Olympic medallist Jared Tallent will be participating in the 50km.
The team: Men: 20km: K.T. Irfan, Gurmeet Singh, Devender Singh, K. Ganapathy, Basant Bahadur Rana. 50km: Sandeep Kumar, Maniram Patel, Manish Singh, Surinder Singh.
Women: 20km: Khushbir Kaur.
Coaches: Gurdev Singh, Ajay Rathi. — Special Correspondent