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first_imgMost doctors will tell you going for walks is good for your health. But when you are talking about a 20km walk and that too as an Olympic competition, there can be nothing casual about it.In London, there is a true story to narrate about how a poor man from Kerala who could not even afford shoes finished a creditable 10th in the 20km walk.People may wonder what’s the big deal about it but when you factor his performance against all odds, it was heart rending how the 22-year-old Armyman showed character and spirit.Speaking to Mail Today on Sunday, Irfan was very happy. “At the start of the race yesterday, I was fifth and then in the second part I was sixth. However, when I got two penalties, I had to be careful,” said Irfan.In walking, as a sport, the athlete cannot bend his knee or start running. After both these offences, Irfan was warned.”The officials told me if I commit one more foul they would scratch me and that’s when I decided to just concentrate on finishing the walk,” said an elated Irfan. He had a surprise visitor on Sunday in Kerala Sports Minister KB Ganesh Kumar at the Games Village.Irfan had been denied good shoes for walking and it was film star Mohan Lal who came to his rescue.However, after this performance, Irfan has become a hero in Areeekode, Mallapuram district, Kerala. “I spoke to my parents and neighbours and they said they had seen me on television. The minister has told me today the Kerala government will now back me fully,” said Irfan.His father is a daily wager and being the fifth child in his family Irfan’s passion for the sport began in school.”This is my first major international competition. I must say the weather on Saturday was very good and there was no strong wind. My goal was to finish in top 25 and I am happy with this effort. Rio 2016 Olympics will be my next big target,” said the modest Irfan.Irfan says he was not thinking about records on Saturday, though later he came to know he had broken the national record.”I know there are so many people even in the Gulf who are happy I did well. My brother also lives there,” added Irfan.Before this journey to London, Irfan had been out on a foreign trip only once when he competed in a World Cup in Russia and qualified.But the Armyman feels now that he has done well in a low profile sport, he will get more exposure. “I am aware with more participation in international meets, I can get better,” added Irfan.advertisementlast_img


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