A cosmopolitan atmosphere and temperate conditions on the first day of the 22nd World Race Walking Cup on the streets of La Coruña were ideal for fast times. Indeed, Ryta Turava from Belarus was bold enough to suggest she could take Olimpiada Ivanova's World record on the seaside course as well as reverse the team domination enjoyed by the Russians in race walking World Cups.
After holding back in the first half the race, the 25-year-old reversed the individual positions of the Helsinki World Championships but as a whole the Russians maintained their tradition with an easy team gold, made up of a new generation of young walkers behind the 35-year-old Ivanova.
Turava won the IAAF Race Walking Challenge series last year, dominated today with a well paced effort that none could match from 12km. Yet her sights had been set even higher, aiming for a team win, plus the bolder claim of being capable of producing a new World record.
The winning time of 1:26:27 was a championship record, overhauling Yelena Nikolayeva’s event record set at Naumburg in 2004 but was a tantalising 48 seconds short of Ivanova’s record set in Helsinki.
“I think I made a mistake - I normally take an energy drink from home and I thought water would be OK today but after the first few kilometres my legs were hurting. I get that sometimes,” said the winner.
Shin soreness is a common affliction of the race walker, usually a result of not tapering training sufficiently prior to a tough race.
Ivanova led to 7km but began to feel the pressure of Turava at her shoulder but, surprisingly, it was a younger Russian Irina Petrova who challenged Turava after that. The 20-year-old from St. Petersburg took the lead for the next three kilometres until Turava suddenly upped the pace to inside World record schedule at 11km.
However, she could not maintain that to the end, and the Russian depth of talent outfought a determined Belarus team effort. Ivanova overhauled Petrova to finish a steady 1:27:26 for second, Petrova was third and Olga Kaniskina fifth - a clear team title ahead of China and Belarus.
“I have still to work on my technique I am a bit upset not to have the record and I thought I could get it today” said Turava after taking the victory.
Tim Watt for the IAAF