The greatest walker of the last decade has vowed his next two 50k races will be his last.
Robert Korzeniowski whose only contribution to the 20th World Walking Cup in Turin was that of an interested spectator will race the World Championships in Paris next year and the Olympics in Athens in 2004 before bringing his illustrious career to a close.
“After that I will concentrate on my business interests and enjoy life a little more,” was how the treble Olympic gold medallist saw the twilight of his competitive life.
He explained that his absence from Turin was no snub to an event he has raced since 1989, but part of the planning that goes into walking 3:36:39 – his current best and a time which bettered the previous mark by nearly a minute at Munich in August.
”I work out my diary by November 15, and it includes one 50k a year. After that there is no room for more races. I start racing in January and build up from there.
“I would have been happy to race in Italy, but it could not be part of my plans this time.”
Korzeniowski revealed his world record at the European championships was more by accident than design.
”I was discussing this with a friend a couple of days before the race and I was happy to let the mark stand. There are so many different types of course and no bonuses for a record it didn’t bother me.
“But I didn’t think about the opposition in Munich and I raced for myself. I had trained to walk each kilometre at 4:12, so an early pace of 4:18 assured me I was in the type of shape to walk fast at the end.”
Korzeniowski hasn’t entirely given up hope of adding the one title which has eluded him so far when the World Cup is held at Naumberg, Germany in May 2004.
He said: “It comes at the right time of the year and I will race at 20k.
”I think it is more than possible that I can walk 1:19:00 or close to that. It could be good enough for a medal and if I’m walking well at this distance – it’s always a good sign for my 50k ambitions.”