Indian athlete KT Irfan has become the first Indian athlete to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics after finishing fourth in the men's 20 kilometre category at the Asian Race Walking Championships in Nomi, Japan.
The 29-year-old clocked 1 hour 20 minutes and 57 seconds to finish inside the Olympic qualification standard of 1 hour and 21 minutes.
The Kerala athlete holds the national record of 1:20:21 which he achieved during his 10th place finish at the 2012 Olympics in London.
He also qualified for this year's World Championships as he bettered the qualifying mark of 1:22:30.
He was one of the two Indian athletes who were expelled from the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia for violating the 'no needle policy' of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The Olympics qualification period for race walk events and marathon race has begun from January 1 this year and will run till May 31, 2020. The Olympics qualification period for all other athletics events will start from May 1 this year and will run till June 29, 2020.
Two other Indians, Devinder Singh and Ganapathi Krishnan also qualified for the World Championships as they clocked 1:21:22 and 1:22:12 respectively. They had finished second and fifth in the Chennai National Race Walk Championships with timings of 1:26:19 and 1:26:43.
In the women's 20 km race walk event, Soumya Baby finished fourth with a timing of 1:36:08, well outside Olympics qualifying standard of 1:31:00 and World Championships qualifying standard of 1:33:30.