|10,000 Metres Race Walk||40:12.90||Barcelona (Estadio Olímpico)||13 JUL 2012|
|10 Kilometres Race Walk||39:40||Sochi||27 FEB 2015|
|20 Kilometres Race Walk||1:19:45||Zürich (Letzigrund)||13 AUG 2014|
|5000 Metres Race Walk||19:35.0||Chelyabinsk||06 JAN 2012|
|2012||40:12.90||Barcelona (Estadio Olímpico)||13 JUL|
|2014||1:19:45||Zürich (Letzigrund)||13 AUG|
|2013||1:20:58||Moskva (Luzhniki)||11 AUG|
|14th IAAF World Junior Championships||2||40:12.90||Barcelona (Estadio Olímpico)||13 JUL 2012|
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created 25 April 2014
Aleksandr IVANOV, Russia (20km Race Walk)
Born 25 April 1993, Nizhny Tagil, Sverdlovsk Oblast
1.76m / 65 kg
Lives: Saransk, Mordovia
Coaches: Victor Chegin, Yelena Sayko, Aleksandr Surayev
Aleksandr was a very active kid, but didn’t attend any sports clubs or organised training sessions until he was in tenth grade, 16 years old. He was the one to be seen running and skiing every day, just on his own. That’s how a physical education teacher, Aleksandr Surayev, noticed him and suggested he should try doing athletics.
Ivanov used to run all possible events, from the 60m to the 5,000m. However, Surayev suggested that he is most suited for race walking. Aleksandr didn’t fall in love with the event at the first sight. “I didn’t like the event at all, didn’t want to be a race walker. But at the same time I knew my body, knew that I had that endurance in me. And coach Surayev used to tell me, my muscles were suited for race walking,” Ivanov says.
Training in Nizhny Tagil was no joke. “We had neither an indoor track, nor a proper stadium. So most of the sessions took place in the forest. In the winter it gets extremely cold there, but we just pulled on an extra hat and a couple of vests, and went for it,” Ivanov explains. But what concerned him more is that the he didn’t get to travel to competitions often enough. That was one of the reasons why Aleksandr decided not to stay at home after graduation from high school. Instead, he entered the Ural State University of Physical Culture in Chelyabinsk. And that’s where his race walking career really took off.
In Chelyabinsk, Ivanov started training under the guidance of Yelena Sayko. In 2011, his first year of being committed to the race walking, Ivanov started off by placing fourth in the junior 10,000m race of the Russian Winter Race Walking Championships in 42:16.0h. At the Summer National Championships he already placed second in the junior 10km (43:24) and earned a team spot for the European Junior Championships in Tallinn.
In Estonia, Ivanov couldn’t get on the podium, but turned out to be the highest placed Russian in the race, clocking 43:29,51 over the 10,000m for sixth place. But most importantly, it was this competition, where he was spotted by the most prominent race walking coach in the country, Victor Chegin, the one who guided to World and Olympic medals the likes of Olga Kaniskina, Valeriy Borchin and Segey Kirdyapkin. Chegin invited the young athlete to join his group for the next training camp in Kislovodsk. “When he came up to me, he told me right away that we’d be working for Rio,” Aleksandr recalls. But the progress of the young athlete turned out to be faster, than expected.
Ever since that training camp, Ivanov spends most of his time at Chegin’s Olympic Training Center in Saransk, however he is still pursuing his degree in Chelyabinsk. “I will graduate as a PE teacher. However, I don’t see myself coaching anytime soon. Honestly, I don’t spend much time on schoolwork. It’s hard, especially while I’m spending most of my time in Saransk. But that’s what it takes for the career. And I’m grateful to the University, they make amends for my training and traveling needs,” admits the World champion.
Training with Chegin made a big difference for Ivanov. In May 2012, as the National Winter Champion, he took part in the junior 10km race at the IAAF World Race Walking Cup in Saransk. This city already felt like home, and with an immense support of the crowd Ivanov took second place in 41:42 behind Colombia’s Eider Arevalo. “Chegin told me to stay in the group for 7 km, but the pace was too slow, and I accelerated earlier. Apparently, it was a mistake,” the Russian recalls.
Next on his international agenda were the World Junior Championships Barcelona 2012. From Spain, Ivanov brought home another silver and a personal best of 40:12.90. And it was Arevalo, who defeated the Russian once again. “The pace was not too high, so I was eager to increase it, but every time I stepped ahead, coaches were telling me not to go into lead, so that I don’t help my competitors too much. So the pace was very uneven, and by the last laps my legs just refused to speed up,” he explains.
In 2013, it was time to step up to the 20km and compete with all the stars of the event on a senior level. With Russian tradition in the race walking, Ivanov has competition on a national level, just as severe, as it would be intentionally. Especially given the fact that the Russians were gearing up for the home World Championships. In his first ever 20km race, at the Russian Winter Race Walking Championships, Aleksandr placed fourth in 1:21:22. His second shot at this distance took place at the European Race Walking Cup in Dudince, where he also took fourth, but placed second among Russian participants.
Just one month before the World Championships, Ivanov represented the country at the European U23 Championships in Tampere. The 2011 European Junior Champion, Germany’s Hagen Pohle, quickly went into the lead, while Ivanov and the defending champion Pyotr Bogatyrev were “in charge” of the chase group. By the 4km mark, Pohle’s lead was gone, now there were the Russians, creating the gap. By the last lap, Bogatyrev and Ivanov were leading by more than three minutes. The gold medallist was decided literally on the last metres of the race. Bogatyrev was a little bit stronger, crossing the finish line first in 1:21:31, Ivanov won another European age-group silver.
(Editor’s note: Bogatyrev was subsequently disqualified for a doping offence.)
Coming into Moscow 2013, Ivanov, not having any senior honors to his name, and just two years of consistent race walking training, was still under the radar, as much as a Russian walker can be. But by the 15th km Ivanov was in the leading group with Olympic gold and silver medallists Chen Ding and Erick Barrondo. The Russian then he surged, gradually increasing the gap between him and the London 2012 runner-up from Guatemala Erick Barrondo. Barrondo, despite already having two red cards from the officials, attempted to catch the Russian and even overcame Ivanov, but Guatemala’s race walker was eventually informed that he had been disqualified with less than 1 km to go. Ivanov won the first Russian gold at the home World Championships and set a personal best of 1:20:58.
“Coach Chegin told me to wait for the last kilometer to spurt, but I relied on my intuition and accelerated earlier. Just like a year before in Saransk. But there I struggled, while here I succeeded. When Barrondo went into lead, I was calm, I already knew about his disqualification, someone on the course told me. Plus I had something left in my tank to ramp up the pace if needed,” explained Ivanov after the finish.
“The preparation for Moscow was brutal, there was a lot of pain. And I haven’t been in Nizhny Tagil for a year, haven’t seen my mom and my sister for the whole year! I told them not to come to Moscow, so that I wouldn’t be distracted, but right after the Worlds, I went home,” says Aleksandr.
When Ivanov gets back to Nizhny Tagil, he always tries to make time to go fishing and hunting with his father. He is also up for a little bit of extreme sports in a shape of alpine skiing. However, training doesn’t leave him much opportunities to do the latter.
Even though the preparation for Moscow was grueling, Ivanov is up for more work. “After tasting that victory at the Worlds, I’m eager to win more, I’m hungry to succeed,” passionately says Aleksandr. And admits, that this is the spirit he is taking to Taicang, for the IAAF World Race Walking Cup, his first time at the event as a senior. He is coming into the event as the Russian Winter Champion. In the end of March, Ivanov improved his personal best by 14 seconds - 1:20:44.
Viktor Chegin already hinted that Ivanov might step up the distance once again, giving the 50km a shot. The World champion is not opposed to this idea, but asks us to wait for it. “I don’t think, I’m switching the event before the Rio. For now it’s the 20km, and then - we’ll see,” smiles Aleksandr.
10,000m RW: 40:12.90 (2012)
20km RW: 1:20:44 (2014)
10,000m RW/20km RW 2011: 42:16.0h/2012: 40:12.90/2013: -/-/1:20:58; 2014: 1:20:44
European Junior Championships (Tallinn)
World Race Walking Cup (Saransk)
(10km Jr RW)
World Junior Championships (Barcelona)
European Cup Race Walking (Dudince)
European U23 Championships (Tampere)
World Championships (Moscow)
Prepared by Elena Dyachkova for the IAAF “Focus on Athletes” project. Copyright IAAF 2014