The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) on Monday announced that the 5th National Race Walking Championship will be held in the National capital on Sunday, 18 February 2018.

Around 80 of India’s best race-walkers in both men’s and women’s categories will face-off in the 20 KM race vying for qualification for both the Commonwealth & Asian Games, scheduled to be held later this year. While the Commonwealth Games is scheduled from 4-15 April, the Asiad is to run from 18 August-2 September.

The race-walkers will battle it out to get to the requisite qualification mark for the two quadrennial events. The qualification benchmark for the Commonwealth Games has been pegged at 1:22:00 for Men, while for women it is set at 1:35:00. The qualification benchmark for the Asiad has been set at 1:22:00 for Men, while for women it is fixed at 1:34:54.

AFI Secretary General, CK Valson, who will be one of the guests of honour on race day was hopeful of witnessing some top-notch athletes in action. “One of the key aspects of a National championship is the opportunity to spot some real talent. This year the field looks really strong and we have been fortunate to have the championship right before major Games. This is also our second year in partnership with Meraki and are in discussion with them to scale up the championships starting 2019. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Enerzal, India’s leading balanced energy drink for their association and hope to work with them across all major championships.”

The other dignitaries likely to grace the National championships are Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Treasurer Anandeshwar Pandey, Olympic Gymnast Dipa Karmakar, Olympian and AFI Selection Committee Chairman JS Randhawa and Rahul Bhatnagar, Secretary, Sports Authority of India (SAI).

Thus far this year the following athletes from National Camp have confirmed the attendance for the event:

  • Irfan Kolothun Thodi (Men)
  • Manish Rawat (Men)
  • Khushbir Kaur (Women)
  • Soumya B (Women)
  • Priyanka Kumari (Women)
  • Ravina (Women)
  • Shanty Kumary (Women)
  • Deepmala Devi (Women)

Speaking on the partnership with Athletics Federation of India, Anang Mohan Basu, Marketing Manager, Enerzal said: “Enerzal is committed to supporting Indian sport and we are very excited to partner with the Athletics Federation of India, to support race walking, a sport we believe is a medal prospect not just at the Commonwealth and Asian games, but at Tokyo 2020 as well. Athletes like Irfan, Manish and Khushbir have performed exceptionally well at the international stage and we wish them the best at the National Championships.”

Speaking at the announcement, Namrata Parekh, Co-Founder & Director, Meraki Sport & Entertainment said, “We have been working closely with the AFI to develop a sponsor ecosystem around athletics in India and this is our second successive year of partnering the national race walking championships. Walking as an activity is more inclusive in comparison with cycling or running and despite being the world’s most popular fitness activity, no brand has been able to “establish its ownership” over the sport of walking. Enerzal’s partnership with the national race walking championships is a step in the right direction. Starting 2019, with AFI’s support and guidance, we are confident of putting India on the Asian race walking circuit.”

The final draw for the race will be announced by 16th February 2018.