03 MAY 2014 Report Taicang, China

Gao provides hosts with first gold medal – junior men's 10km report Taicang 2014

A thrilling last 2km lap, with four men in contention at the bell, saw Gao Wenkui triumph on home soil in the junior men’s 10km race at the 2014 IAAF World Race Walking Cup in Taicang, China on Saturday (3).

Gao, arguably the pre-race favourite, showed outstanding maturity and tactical awareness for his 18 years and, after a failed attempt to race away from his rivals over the first half of the race, still had enough in reserve to launch a second attack on the final lap and take the gold medal in a championship record and 2014 world-leading time of 39:40.

Inevitably, there were loud cheers for Gao’s success and a huge roar went up again when it was announced that China had won the team gold medals for the first time in the junior men’s short history since the event came on to the championship programme in 2004.

Gao and Japan’s Daisuke Matsunaga did all the hard work over the first half of the race, the pair darting into the lead from the gun.

At 3km, passed in 11:44, they had a 14-second lead over the rest of the field, but gradually their advantage began to diminish.

The pair went through the halfway point in 19:53 but the gap over the six-strong chasing pack had been reduced to nine seconds and the group caught up with the breakaway early leaders at 6km.

Nevertheless, it was still Gao in the front dictating the pace and the rhythm saw three men drop off the back over the course of the next lap.

Coming off the penultimate bend with just over one kilometre to go, Gao surged again and opened up a 15-metre lead over his rivals, a move which also tore the chasing group apart.

Despite clearly tiring as the finish line loomed into sight after rounding the final turn with just under 500m metres to go, he managed to repel the late challenge of Matsunaga.

National junior records galore

The Japanese walker was clearly happy with his silver medal and superlative performance though as he clocked a national junior record of 39:45.

Russia’s Nikolay Markov took the bronze medal in a personal best of 39:55 and, though he finished out of the individual medals, Spain’s Diego Garcia finished fourth in another national junior record of 40:10.

Securing China the team title, Jie Jinzhu came home fifth in 40:46.

In a race of outstanding depth, Peru’s Paolo Yurivilca can also feel contented with his trip to China and although edged into sixth place, he came home in a national junior record of 40:47.

With the IAAF World Junior Championships coming up this summer in Eugene, USA, it will be interesting to see whether Gao can transfer his talent to the track, when the gold medals will be disputed over 10,000m, or whether any of the other main contenders in Taicang can devise a tactical plan that will put them in front of the rangy long-legged Chinese teenager.

With Garcia to the fore, Spain took the team silver medals with 17 points, two ahead of bronze medallists Australia.

Phil Minshull for the IAAF