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UK Athletics

Champions set for Leamington

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Yohan Diniz

The current world record holder for the men’s 50k and the reigning Olympic champion for 20k are among the entries for the European Cup Race Walking at Royal Leamington Spa on 20 May.

Denis Nizhegorodov of Russia strode into the record books when he clocked 3:35:29 for 50k distance in 2004.  That same year he picked up Olympic silver in Athens behind the legendary Pole Robert Korzeniowski who retired after winning his third successive Olympic gold.

Since then, Nizhegorodov has taken a foothold on the title of “world’s greatest walker”, winning IAAF World Cup and European Cup Race Walking gold in 2006.  However, he missed out on European Championship gold last summer when he was disqualified in Gothenburg for three fouls.

The winner on that occasion was Yohan Diniz of France and he too is entered for Royal Leamington Spa.  Norway’s Trond Nymark won IAAF World Cup silver last year and is another likely contender. 

The one to watch though, could be Alex Schwarzer, 2005 World Championships bronze medallist.  The Italian logged the fourth fastest time in history, 3:36:04, on home turf in Rosignano Solvay on February 11.

The 20k distance will see Olympic champion Ivano Bugnetti in action.  The Italian will be keen to bounce back from a disappointing showing at the IAAF Race Walking Challenge event at Sesto San Giovanni, Italy on Tuesday where he dropped out at the 15km mark when placed third after leading in the early stages.

Also in a strong field of world-class athletes in Royal Leamington Spa is Ily Markov of Russia. The 1999 World Champion rolled back the years when winning this title last year.

Daniel King (Colchester Harriers) is the sole member of the Norwich Union GB & NI men’s team in action in the 20k race.  King was 6th in last year’s Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia. 

A preview of the women's 20k race will appear here next week. For more information on the European Cup Race Walking, visit the event’s official website here.


Photo courtesy of European Athletic Association