Ballarat walker and Olympic gold medalist Jared Tallent rallied support behind the uncertain future of the 50km walk in the Olympics.
The International Olympic Committee advised the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to assess the events future in the Olympic Games, with a decision expected to be announced in the next 48 hours.
Tallent, whose pet event is the 50km walk, believed the IAAF was exploring alternative options to have shorter events to appeal to the targeted younger audience as well as changing the 20km walk to half-marathon distance.
A passionate Tallent threw his support behind the event which he sees as the sports pinnacle.
“The 50km particularly has always been seen as the grand event in the walks, it’s always been the big one to win,” Tallent said.
Tallent said the main frustration surrounding the matter was the lack of communication with athletes about such a significant decision, the 32-year-old said he and fellow walkers had been left “blindsighted”.
“The major problem here is that there’s been no consultation with the wider walking community around the world, we’ve totally been blindsighted by it ...that’s the big frustration, that a lot of athletes around the world have is that they weren’t consulted at all.”
Tallent said when he first heard about the decision last week he feared for the 50km walk, but he is now feeling confident the event will remain an Olympic sport following the wave of support.
Tallent outlined another proposed reason being gender equality, given women do not race the 50km. But he believes the wiser decision would be to involve the women in the longer race as well – many of which are in favour of the 50km.
The IAAF competitions committee, a separate committee, ruled in favour of keeping the event.
A 26-person committee, made-up of people from all over the world, will make a final decision before the weekend.
Petition to keep the 50km walk: https://www.change.org/p/ioc-iaaf-keep-the-50km-race-walk-in-the-olympics