Thanks to SAI apathy, Irfan walks the tough path

If the 20km walk wasn't tough enough, here is a man who had to endure the grind of training everyday to make his dream of competing in the Olympic Games come true and also resolutely fight the system for what he felt was his due.

Irfan KT, the athlete who created a national mark in 20km walk at the London Games, had to bear his boarding and lodging costs to be a part of the national camp for the Olympic qualifiers.

Bearing expenses
If this doesn't shock you, the fact that he had to pay from his pocket for more than a fortnight, despite achieving the 'A' standard mark, will certainly be an eye-opener. All this because the Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) Teams division included his name late. Though the Kerala athlete was nowhere near the medals bracket --- Irfan finished 10th with a time of 1:20:21sec --- he was not found wanting in effort, creating a national mark, which is commendable on the grand stage.

Irfan's effort becomes all the more praiseworthy as a couple of months ago nobody even expected him to be a part of the national camp. Left to train by himself, Irfan pushed himself to the limit to make it to the Olympic qualifiers.

On May 12, when he finally earned the Olympic berth in Russia, he thought his days of struggle were over. But he continued to pay for his boarding and lodging till May-end.

“Initially, I was part of the developmental camp, but by December, the camp wound up and we were asked to go home. I was confident of making it to the Olympics, so I decided to train along with the national campers at NIS, Patiala, though I was not part of the national camp. I had to pay for my food and accommodation,” says Irfan,  the 22-year-old Irfan, a sepoy in the Indian Army.

“I qualified for the London Games on May 12, but still continued to pay for my stay as my name was not included till early June,” he added.

Irfan had to pay Rs. 6500 per month for food and accommodation for his stay at NIS Patiala from January till May.

“We were helpless as his name was not there in the national camp, so he had to pay for his food and accommodation. But the strange part is that despite qualifying he had to pay to stay at NIS,” says a coach on condition of anonymity.


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