Irfan Kolothum Thodi is one of the very best that India have offered in the field of Racewalking. The 27-year-old managed to finish 10th at the 2012 London Games, which could have been better had he not received two penalties near the end when he was at the fifth place.
In an exclusive interview with SportsCafe, Irfan talked about his journey - from picking up the sport in order to get into college to breaking the National record whilst finishing 10th at the biggest athletics event in the world.
How did you arrive at the decision of becoming a professional racewalker?
I didn’t do any Racewalking as a child. I started it just to get admission into college. At around the same time, I got entry to SAI hostel as well and that encouraged me to continue pursuing the sport. In 2010, I joined the Indian Army where I gave a good performance in the first competition itself. At National Games, coach Gurudev Singh saw me and asked me to come to the National Camp. After just 10 days of joining the camp, I got a silver medal in a national competition - that was my first medal. After that, I have been getting golds in all the [national] competitions
In 2012, I took part in the Federation Cup where I qualified for Olympics. Until then time, I hadn’t thought about Olympics at all let alone about my Olympics performance, After the 2012 Federation Cup, I started thinking about it. Before that, I just wanted to go and participate in the Olympics, but I gave a good performance there. Don’t know how I did it, but I did. by
How was your experience at the Olympics?
I still can’t believe that I was able to finish in the 10th spot at the Olympics. In 2012 Olympics, I came 10th was able to claim the national record as well. You can call this my first International competition because before that I only took part in the World Cup. In the first Olympics, at the beginning, I was quite behind. However, after 10kms, I managed to reach the top 5. At the end, though, I got two fouls due to which my walk got slower. But still, I made it into the top 10.
Who inspired you to pick up the sport?
I didn’t start Race walking by seeing anyone, but there was a guy in my village who was also a Racewalker. He had some experience at the state and national level, by following him and helping him, I got into Racewalking. But I really didn’t get inspired by anyone to get into this sport. There are many international race walkers out there. There’s an Australian Race walker named Jared Tallent, we communicate on a regular basis via email, I follow him a lot.
What future tournaments are you looking forward to competing in?
After 2014 Asian Games, I got injured. I had a stress fracture in my ankle. After that, I also played 2016 Asian Championship, but my performance in that competition wasn’t that good. But this year, I believe I can give a good performance since I have no injury problems and my body feels fit. I can perform well in National Championships and the Asian Championships as well. We also have the World Championships in August and I’ve been training hard to perform better in that competition.
The Max Bupa National racewalking Championship will take place in New Delhi on 18-19 February.