General News New York, USA

Colombia’s walkers dominate US champs - Destination Chihuahua

Luis Lopez of Colombia walking to victory in the US 30km champs in New York (Victah Sailer)Luis Lopez of Colombia walking to victory in the US 30km champs in New York (Victah Sailer) © Copyright

Colombia’s best race walkers with eyes naturally set on next year’s IAAF World Race Walking Cup which take place in Chihuahua, Mexico, made a great showing at last weekend’s USA 30km championships.

On a stormy, cold(43F-7C) and rainy Sunday morning (18) in Hauppauge, New York ( about 50 miles/75km east of NYC), which saw US Olympian Tim Seaman’ take his 41st USA title thanks to his third place finish  in 2:38:16, two-time Olympian, Luis Fernandez Lopez of Colombia took the overall race victory.

Lopez set a course record of 2:13:00, with another Colombian veteran Rodrigo Moreno, 43, finishing second, also distantly, in 2:30:59.

Lopez, a police officer who resides and trains in the thin air of Bogota has been in great form in 2009 taking the America’s cup victory in San Salvador on 1 May (1:22:18), and is preparing himself for next year’s World Race Walking Cup which will be the highlight of the race walking calendar.

The 5th place finisher over 20km at the World Championships in Berlin this summer in a national record of 1:20:43, Lopez who is 30-years-old is assembling a good global championship record having been ninth at the 2008 Olympic Games. He was also 12th back in the 2005 World Championships.

Lopez came second in the IAAF Race Walking Challenge race in Chihuahua last March (14) and so will be looking for a good showing when the World Cup takes place there on 15 / 16 May. Two year’s ago at the last edition in Cheboksary, Russia, he finished 23rd in the 20km leading home the Colombian team to a ninth place finish overall, and on the back of his improvement his country will be hoping for a top-8 finish at least in next year’s race in Mexico.

On the women's side, another guest Colombian Olympian Sandra Zapata, 32, was also very strong winning in 2:35:38. Zapata who finished 22nd at the last World Cup will have her own ambitions next year in Chihuahua even though she has not been on top form in 2009.

Zapata was far ahead of the fast starting Susan Randall(USA) who tried valiantly to hold off the hard charging Maria Michta (USA). But it was Michta who coming back very strong in the 2nd half of her race, that ended up the US champion in 2:49:37, with Randall third in 2:53:16.

Victah Sailer for the IAAF

1. Luis Fernandez Lopez  COL  2:13:00
2. Rodrigo Moreno COL 2:30:59
3. Tim Seaman USA  2:38:16....USA Champion

1. Susan Zapata  COL  2:35:38
2. Maria Michta USA  2:49:37....USA Champion
3. Susan Randall USA  2:53:16