The first ever Junior Men’s 10km race provided a dramatic finale to the first day of the IAAF World Race Walking Cup when the early leader, Vladimir Kanaykin of Russia, was disqualified just before starting the final lap, and the man who had taken his lead, Ecuador’s Osvaldo Ortega, was also disqualified just 400 metres from the finish, as he duelled with China’s Sun Chao, who went on to cross the line first in 40:38.
Mexico’s Eder Sanchez, the current world leader this year with 40:33, confirmed his form in second place with another Sanchez, but this time Benjamin from Spain, finishing a delighted third in 41:19.
For most of the race, it seemed that Russia’s walking prodigy Kanaykin, the former World Youth champion, was aiming only to lower his personal best of 39:37 by the biggest margin possible.
The reigning World Junior champion surged into the lead from the gun, and with just 5 minutes on the clock, there was already a lead group of four, consisting of Kanaykin’s team mate Ruzavin and two Mexicans Sanchez and Rojas, with Ortega and Sun just behind.
With one lap complete, Kanyakin began to build up a gap, first 5 seconds but then steadily increased over the second lap of 2.5km.
Moving fast, but relaxed, frequently checking his watch as well as the position of his rivals, the Russian was soon 20 metres ahead of the chasing group, but was determined to increase his lead, and with 2 laps left, and 19:40 on the clock at the 5km mark, he was more than 20 seconds (over 50 metres) clear of his pursuers, led by Ortega and Sanchez, with Rojas, Sun and the third Mexican David Mejia, seemingly fighting for the minor medals.
With the best mark of this year set to be ratified by the IAAF as the inaugural World Record on 1 January 2005, Kanaykin had an extra incentive to set an outstanding mark but by throwing caution to the wind, he also began to pick up warnings from the judge, and seemingly oblivious to the risk, he refused to back off and, less than 100m from the bell for the last lap, received his red card and a disqualification.
With the 2.5km left, it was now Osvaldo Ortega who looked like he might emulate the World Cup achievements of his fellow Ecuadorian Jefferson Perez, and he had a fair lead of 9 seconds on Sun, with Sanchez beginning to tire, and the next Mexican Mejia, disqualified from the race with about 1km left to go.
Ortega was hanging on but Sun – already on 2 warnings – was catching him fast and went past with just 400 metres to go. The Ecuadorian, who had only one warning at that stage, refused to give up, but in his enthusiasm to regain the lead, was flashed with the red card, less than 100 metres before the finish line.
Sun’s victory was now assured, and he was followed over the line 23 seconds later by Eder Sanchez (MEX) with Benjamin Sanchez (ESP), who had run a clean, technical race, earning a worthy bronze. In the team competition, Mexico finished first, with Russian second and China third.