Report

Chinese walkers stroll off with two victories in Lugano

Zhen Wang of China on his way to winning the 20km race in Saransk (Getty Images)Zhen Wang of China on his way to winning the 20km race in Saransk (Getty Images) © Copyright

The 11th Memorial Mario Albisetti, Lugano Trophy in Switzerland, part of the IAAF Race Walking Challenge, saw wins for China’s Wang Zhen and Liu Hong on Sunday (17).

London 2012 Olympic Games 20km Race Walk bronze medallist Wang Zhen won in 1:19:08, his second victory at the race after a win in 2011.

Wang, the Asian record-holder with 1:17:36 set in 2012 and also a winner at the 2012 IAAF World Race Walking Cup, broke away at the 8km mark, quickly opening up a gap of 14 seconds over an eight-man chasing pack.

He increased his lead to 31 seconds over France’s inspired Kevin Campion at the halfway mark which he went through in 39:51 and continue to extend his lead as the kilometres ticked off.

Wang, still only 21, had a gap of 1:19 at 15km, which he reached in 59:01 and that had grown to 1:26 at 17km when the clock read 1:07:06.

Second was Ukraine’s Ruslan Dmytrenko in 1:20:38 and third was Campion, who made a big improvement by almost two minutes to clock 1:21:02. The top 10 all went under 1:22.

Fourth was another Ukrainian race walker, Nazar Kovalenko in 1:21:10. Guatemala’s 2012 Olympic 20km Race Walk silver medallist Erick Barrondo was disqualified.

Liu also regains her crown

Two-time IAAF World Championships medallist and Asian record-holder Liu Hong was the top woman in 1:27:06, a new event record by almost a minute beating the previous mark of 1:28:03 set by Russia’s Tatyana Sibileva from last year.

Like her compatriot and training partner Wang, who are both guided by the famous Italian walking guru Sandro Damilano, Liu had already won here in 2011.

In second place, just like 12 months ago, was Guatemala’s Mirna Ortiz in 1:28:54, bizarrely exactly the same time as 2012 and so she equalled her own Central America and Caribbean record.

Two more women went under 1:30 on the fast lakeside circuit. Third was Russia’s Lina Bikulowa with a personal best of 1:28:58 while Katarzyna Kwoka set a Polish record of 1:29:21 in fourth place.

Liu and Bikulova led at the halfway mark in 44:15 with a gap of 13 seconds back to Kwoka. The Chinese star then began pulling away and had a lead of four seconds at 14km before increasing her advantage further in the following kilometre to lead by 22 seconds as the 15km checkpoint was passed in 1:06:05. At 17km, Liu’s lead over her nearest rival had grown to 52 seconds and it kept on increasing all the way to the line.

Ortiz was 16 seconds behind Bikulova at 18km but closed the gap on the Russian walker and caught up with her midway through in the final kilometre.

Winners of the junior 10km races were Great Britain’s Jamie Higgins with 43:30 and Russia’s 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships 10,000m Race Walk silver medallist Nadezhda Leontyeva in 45:14.

A special correspondent for the IAAF