In the absence of the top Asian athletes ï¿½ the Indians will also miss it — the main focus in the Spanish leg of this year’s World Athletics Challenge-Race Walking competition here on Saturday will be on the top Europeans athletes.
‘We aren’t going to Spain to compete as the Indian athletes aren’t getting visas to travel to Europe due to the second wave of Covid-19 in India,’ one of the athletes told IANS.
India has booked five Tokyo Olympic Games quota places in the 20km race walking event, including two in the women’s section.
Olympian KT Irfan, Sandeep Kumar and Rahul Kumar have qualified for the Olympics in the men’s 20km event while Bhawana Jat and Priyanka Goswami are the qualified women.
‘The top athletes competed in the National Race Walking Championship, held in February. Thereafter, there wasn’t any exposure due to the pandemic,’ said one of the Olympic bound athletes.
In Saturday’s race, Sweden’s Perseus Karlstrom and the Spanish European champion Alvaro Martin and silver medallist Diego Garcia are among the favourites.
Karsltrom, the reigning world bronze medallist is fresh from a commanding win in one hour 18:54 seconds at the European Race Walking Team Championships held last month in Podebrady, Czech Republic.
The Swede is enjoying a solid season as he also won in Murcia in March, on the occasion of the Spanish Championships, in a season’s best of one hour 18:45 seconds.
More than 160 race walkers will take part in the event, Mexico’s being the largest squad with 38 athletes.