Jared Tallent admits he might have made a different call on his Olympic future had there been a decision to scrap the 50km men’s walk from the Tokyo Games.
But Tallent is pleased by the recent International Association of Athletics Federations vote to keep the long distance event as part of the program until at least 2020.
Tallent was involved in an online petition set up to show displeasure at a proposed scrapping of the 50km race walk at the Olympic Games and IAAF World Championships. Another option for consideration by the IAAF, the petition stated, was to make the 20km race walk a half-marathon (21.1km).
“If my main event was to disappear, I’d have to really think hard if I was going to be successful over the shorter distance to be able to still support my family,” Tallent told The Courier.
“I’m confident I can do that in the longer races and that’s what I’ve been really focused on and heading towards. I’m better at that event, but to go back to the shorter event would have been a different ball game.”
Tallent said some athletes might have decided to retire after the Rio Olympics had the 50km event not been an option.
“It would be completely unfair to be this far into the four-year cycle and to then have those plans ripped up,” he said.
While pleased with the decision to keep the 50km event on the IAAF calendar, Tallent still holds concerns about its long-term prospects.
“I’m very happy with that decision and it’s a positive outlook for the short-term future, but I still have concerns about what will happen after 2020,” he said.
“It may not affect me because I’ll probably hang up my shoes after 2020, but I still want to see the long-term viability of the event. I think the 50km has a real place in the sport.
“I would still hate to see it go after 2020, but it’s great news to see at least it’s going to be there for Tokyo.”
Tallent won a gold medal in the 50km race at the London Games in 2012.