New Delhi: Four Indian race walkers today left for Incheon for the Asian Games with the promise of performing their best in the multi-sporting event. Basanta Bahadur Rana (men's 50km), Ganapathy K (20km), Sandeep Kumar (men's 50km) and Khushbir Kaur (women's 20km) will leave for Incheon along with coach Alexander Artsybashev tonight. All of them train at Bangalore SAI Centre.
This is the second batch of the athletics team to leave for Incheon after the first batch of seven left the country on September 4. The remaining athletes in the 56-strong team is expected to leave on September 19. Coach Alexander said his wards would be in medal contention if they perform their personal best.
"I don't like to have many Meets for the walkers and since I came to India in 2011, we are having an elite group of 15 walkers who can qualify for the Olympics," he told reporters at a pre-departure media interaction.
"It is a strong team and I expect good results form this race walk team. I don't want to promise medals and I will be happy if they better their personal best. If they do that, they will be in medal contention," he said.
National record holder 20km race walker K T Irfan, who trains at Dharamsala SAI Centre, will leave for Incheon later. 2012 London Olympian Rana, whose earlier national record was broken recently by Sandeep Kumar (3:56:22), said that there was not shortcoming in their preparations and the facilities provided to them.
"We don't have any complaints as far as facilities and preparations are concerned. There was no shortcomings in that regard. Just as the coach said, we would be happy if we improve upon our personal best. If we do that we can be in the medal bracket," said Rana who has a personal best of 3:56:48. Asked about the countries whose walkers the Indians may have to fight to win a medal, he said, "Chinese, Japanese and Koreans are strong in race walk. But in such a long distance of 20km or 50km, anything can happen. We are a strong team and we want to give our best for the country."
21-year-old Khushbir, also national record holder (1:33:37), said she is geared up for the Games. "I have been preparing this season with an aim to do well in Asian Games. It is a big event and I want to do well," said Khushbir who won a bronze in the Asian Race Walk Championships in Japan this year.