General News 31 May 2009 – Krakow, Poland

Borchin and Plätzer take 10km victories in Krakow - IAAF Race Walking Challenge

Kjersti Plätzer wins again in Sesto San Giovanni (Lorenzo Sampaolo)Kjersti Plätzer wins again in Sesto San Giovanni (Lorenzo Sampaolo) © Copyright
Krakow, PolandRussian’s Valeriy Borchin, the 2008 Olympic champion and Olympic silver medallist Kjersti Plätzer won the ‘Na Rynek Marsz’ competition over the non-standard 10 Km distance held at the Main Market Square of the famous Old Town in Krakow on Saturday (30).

Borchin dominated the men’s race while Plätzer defeated Olympic champion Olga Kaniskina by just one second.

Women’s race

The 37-year-old Plätzer, the current leader in the IAAF Race Walking Challenge, increased her advantage after winning her fourth Challenge event this year. Finishing the first loop (approx. 1.35 km) there were only two athletes in contention, Plätzer and Kaniskina, the current World, Olympic and World Cup 20 km champion. At the finish the much taller Norwegian was in a better position due to the Russian’s two red cards. Plätzer has competed often over the shorter distance while for Kaniskina, it was her first outing over the distance in five years. Their match on Saturday was a revenge battle from Olympic Games, their first meeting since Beijing.

Plätzer crossed the finish line in 41:41 with Kaniskina just behind in 41:42, both considerably faster than the previous world-leading performances.

Italy’s Elisa Rigaudo was third, equaling her finish from Challenge events in Chihuahua and in Sesto San Giovanni. For a third of the race the Italian was 30 seconds ahead of the rest of the field but not seeing a chance to compete with the two leaders, she slowed her pace considerably choosing to secure her third place finish.  She finished more than two minutes behind the leaders in 43:44.

Behind her back four walkers were in a heated battle. At the beginning of the race the best of them was Claudia Stef of Romania, competing for points in her fourth IAAF Challenge race this year. But at the finish she was overtaken by Vera Santos of Portugal. Another Portuguese, Ines Henriques, closed the gap on Stef, finishing just a second behind. Three seconds behind her, Irishwoman Olive Loughnane, fourth in the European Cup race a week ago,was next across the line.

The best of the10 starting Poles was Sylwia Korzeniowska, the sister of race organiser and Race Walk legend Robert Korzeniowski. She finished ninth but nowadays, the Polish record holder over the 20 km distance, specializes in the shorter races. She has a win streak of 35 over the shorter 3 km and 5 km distances, achieved mainly in France where she has been living for years.

Men’s race

In his last five races, Valeriy Borchin has lost only once, to Francisco Javier Fernandez of Spain. But in Krakow the Spaniard, who has been unbeaten this year, withdrew due to a back injury. So the Russian could play the main role in the race as he planned. To the fourth kilometre there were nine walkers in the lead group with Borchin resting in the middle.

At 5 km Borchin began pushing the pace and after the third loop only Erik Tysse of Norway and Yohan Diniz of France still were following closely. But over the next few loops the gap increased to four seconds at 6 km and 27 seconds at 8.7 km. On the second loop the split was 5:22 but the fastest was by Borchin (5:00), enabling him to break away from Tysse and Diniz. In the last kilometre Tysse, Plätzer’s brother, proved that he is the current leader of Challenge standings by finishing strongly eight seconds ahead of Diniz, the current European Champion at 50 km.

Nowadays the best walkers rather rarely take part in the 10 km races so the race produced many personal bests. Borchin clocked 38:11, ahead of the previous season’s best, 39:36 by Brazil’s Moacir Zimmermann. Borchin now leads world at both the 10 km and 20 km (1:17:38).

The top seven finishers in Krakow helped rewrite the world season’s list. Tysse crossed the finish line in 38:38 but he is an exception, walking very often on the shorter distances. His national record is 37:33. Diniz was probably very satisfied with his 38:45, as he is the only man this year below 3:40 at 50 km, his strongest distance. There were solid results below 39:30 achieved by the next four walkers competing in the second half of the race in pairs of two. European championship medallist Joao Vieira of Portugal along with the other reigning Olympic champion in the field, Alex Schwazer of Italy, achieved 39:12 and 39:15 respectively.

Grzegorz Sudol, the local favourite, was very active in the first part of the race. He walked more than 9 km with Hatem Ghoula of Tunisia but at the end the best African walker in history was faster finishing sixth in 39:23, four seconds ahead of Sudol.

Fortunately the weather in Krakow was much better than the forecast, 15 degrees C, cloudy but without rain. 

Janusz Rozum for the IAAF

Leading Results -

Women’s 10 km race:
 1. Kjersti Tysse Plätzer (Norway)       41:41
 2. Olga Kaniskina (Russia)              41:42
 3. Elisa Rigaudo (Italy)                43:44
 4. Vera Santos (Portugal)               44:07
 5. Claudia Stef (Romania)               44:21
 6. Ines Henriques (Portugal)            44:22
 7. Olive Loughnane (Ireland)            44:25
 8. Tatiana Korotkowa (Russia)           45:57
 9. Sylwia Korzeniowska (Poland)         46:26
10. Zuzana Schindlerova (Czech Republic) 46:52

Men’s 10 km race:
 1. Valeriy Borchin (Russia)             38:11
 2. Erik Tysse (Norway)                  38:38
 3. Yohan Diniz (France)                 38:46
 4. Joao Vieira (Portugal)               39:12
 5. Alex Schwazer (Italy)                39:15
 6. Hatem Ghoula (Tunisia)               39:23
 7. Grzegorz Sudol (Poland)              39:27
 8. Matej Toth (Slovakia)                39:41
 9. Jakub Jelonek (Poland)               40:16
10. Rafal Augustyn (Poland)              40.32