Jared Tallent really emerged onto the international stage with silver and bronze medals in the two Olympic men’s Race Walks in Beijing in 2008.
And Tallent will be back to attempt both walks in London later this year after winning his fifth consecutive Australian 20km Race Walk title around Hobart’s docks on Saturday evening (25) at the Oceania & Australia Race Walk Championships. The competition is valid as a points scoring event for the 2012 IAAF Race Walking Challenge.
The walk was conducted at 6pm on a day of sweltering heat. Hobart’s temperature peaked at 38deg.C. Sunday’s peak was forecast at over 35, too. Only 16 times previously has Hobart experienced consecutive 34-plus days since temperatures were first recorded in 1895.
Tallent adopted a conservative approach in the conditions, as indicated by his winning time of 1:23:01. Chris Erickson was second in 1:24:12 with Inaki Gomez of Canada third in 1:24:46.
Despite the hot feet, it was a Tallent parade all round. Claire Tallent, Jared’s wife, will join him in London after booking her place in the team with a win in the women’s race. Claire Tallent’s time of one hour 32 minutes 58 seconds was 32 seconds under the A-standard. In winning the trial with an Olympic A-standard performance she became an automatic selection.
Rounding out the Tallent parade, Jared’s younger sister Rachel Tallent won the U20 women’s 10km title in 49:28.
Jared Tallent admitted the heat was a big factor in both races.
“It wasn’t easy at all,” he said. “It was pretty brutal out there with the heat on the first 10km, that really took it out on me.”
“Early on I just wanted to sit back and see where the others were and be conservative. I don’t know what the temperature was but . . . it was always going to take its toll on us.”
Tallent qualified for Olympic pre-selection in the 50km with his bronze medal in Daegu last year. For good measure, he won the Australian 50km selection trial at the end of last year, too. He said he was happy with how things are progressing on the road to the Games.
“Everything seems to be going really well this year, everything is on track for London. This year is all hopefully about winning at the Olympics after coming second and third last time.”
In many ways, though, it was Claire Tallent’s day. She was the only walker to record an Olympic A-standard.
“I’m very proud of Claire. It’s our third Hobart race in a row that we’ve won together and my fifth national title in a row,” said Jared Tallent.
Claire Tallent was delighted to clinch her spot in the London team saying: “My whole year has been about qualifying for the Olympics. My family and my nephews booked their flights a few months ago so it’s been about getting there.
She said the heat was unexpected in Hobart, so much so that the walkers had done very little specific preparation.
“It was actually ironic as it’s the first year in three or four that we hadn’t done any sort of heat training through the summer; having said that, we’ve done enough preparation for Beijing, Delhi and Daegu for the heat, so we had our protocols down pat.”
“The heat didn’t stress us so much, we had done all the work before we got here so we just jumped into it and tried our best to get the job done today,” Tallent added.
Men’s runner-up Erickson is now in the position of having a qualifier for the 50km but three – Tallent, Nathan Deakes and Luke Adams - in front of him, and a qualification by place for the 20km but no qualifying performance.
Australian Institute of Sport coach Brent Vallance said he expected Erickson would get the Olympic standard in the IAAF Race Walking Challenge event in Taicang, China on 30 March.
Regan Lamble, Australia’s top finisher in Daegu, was runner-up to Claire Tallent with Zuzana Schinderalova of the Czech Republic third. Beki Lee was third Australian home. As both Lamble and Lee have met the A-standard in the qualifying period, they should ultimately join the winner in London later this year.
Len Johnson for the IAAF