KOCHI: Last summer, before the qualification period for the Rio Olympics ended, the late national race walking coach Ramakrishnan Gandhi was asked a tricky question. A journalist wanted to know if the injured KT Irfan’s time was over.
Gandhi could have dodged the question but didn’t. “He might be performing badly but you can’t write him off just like that. He is a brilliant race walker and can stage a comeback. I believe in him,” Gandhi had said.
Gandhi is no more but the Irfan attested to the faith that the coach had in him by winning bronze at the Asian Race Walking Championship at Nomi City, Japan, in his first major race since returning from injury.
The army man clocked 1.20:59 to finish behind Georgiy Sheiko of Kazakhstan (1:20:47) and Korea’s Kim Hyun-Sub (1:19:50). “This medal is my reply to those who doubted me. Those who spoke badly about me when I was going through a bad phase. Those who said my career was over when I was injured,” Irfan told Express from Nomi.