The junior men’s 10km, the first race of the 23rd IAAF World Race Walking Cup, Cheboksary, Russia, went to form with Russia predictably opening the weekend in front of over 20,000 spectators with a win.
But the one blip, if you can call it that, was the home-gown athlete with the second-fastest time this year not only prevailed, but claimed a World junior record** while he was at it.
Aleksey Bartsaykin had team-mateEdikt Khaybullin beaten long before the end, even though the latter had the fastest time of the year going into the race.
In fact, 19-year-old Bartsaykin decided it was going to be his day with a lap-and-a-half to go when he snapped the string that joined him to a group of four.
The Russian then sprinted to open up a gap of 15 metres from team-mate Denis Strekov and Spaniard Luis Torla.
The lead doubled by the bell, but it then looked as if Bartsaykin was happy to settle for just a glorious win in front of thousands of his countrymen.
He drunk in the applause going into the final turn, but he was also travelling at a tremendous pace. With a 100 metres to go he turned on the afterburners to crash through the line just under the magical 40:00 and claim the vacant World record.
The Chinese, Ding Chen thundered past Strelkov for silver, who in turn, was too quick for the Spaniard Torla.
Early on, a group of eight enjoyed a relatively easy first 2km in around 8:02, with all the form walkers showing up front.
Indeed, such was the pushy pace, the field of 50-plus walkers was blown apart with large gaps from first to last.
Even though most walkers in the race had PBs not exceeding 50:00, by the last lap of five around the lakeside setting, the backmarkers were already being lapped.
It was no surprise that Khaybullin was suffering, despite his superfast time in the Russian Championships and disappeared on the last lap.
The only surprise to spectators was that Bartsaykin had time to wave to crowds, and still claim the fastest ratified time ever by a junior man.
The winner’s major concern wasn’t whether he would break the World record, but whether his pole position was in danger from a team-mate.
Bartsaykin said: “I didn’t think about the World record. However, I though another Russian might win. “I didn’t know which one, but certainly thought any threat would come from our team.
“With 200m left, I realised there was no-one behind me. But it was only 50m from the line I realised the World record was on.”
Paul Warburton for the IAAF
**subject to ratification
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