For the first time, perhaps, India will host an exclusive International invitational race walking (20km) meet.
Scheduled to be held in Chennai on February 16 and 17, the event will have leading Indian athletes and second-rung walkers from China, Japan, Korea and Australia.
Three more events, apart from the International meet, will be held — under-20 (20km) boys and girls and the National championship (50km) only for men and under-18 boys and girls (10km). The International and under-20 events will be held on February 16, while the men’s Nationals will be on February 17.
There will be prize money for all the four events, the exact amount will be announced later.
Top Indian stars including K. T. Irfan, Manish Singh Rawat, Eknath Sambhaji, Sandeep Kumar, Ravina, Soumya Baby, Shanti Kumari, among others, are expected to participate.
The meet proides an opportunity for Indians to make the qualifying grade for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the World championships to be held in Doha from September 27 to October 6, 2019 for both the 20km and 50km disciplines.
“We have identified race walking as one of the events which could fetch us a medal at the Olympics. Moreover, Asian countries like China and Japan are some of the top countries in race walking. With our athletes competing with them, it will improve their timings. I hope a few of them (Indians) qualify from this event here,” C.K. Valson, Athletics Federation of India secretary,