11 JUL 2012 General News Barcelona

Medvedeva plans to be a beach babe before becoming a poster girl

Ekaterina Medvedeva of Russia celebrates winning the Women's 10000 metres Race Walk on the day two of the 14th IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona on 11 July 2012 (Getty Images)Ekaterina Medvedeva of Russia celebrates winning the Women's 10000 metres Race Walk on the day two of the 14th IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona on 11 July 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Russia's main centre of race walking excellence, which is housed in the city of Saransk, boasts of an impressive 'Wall of Heroes' which features large photos portraits of World and Olympic champions.

After her triumph at the IAAF World Junior Championships on Wednesday, Ekaterina Medvedeva can look forward to providing a large portrait shot very soon and joining the illustrious list of walkers honoured.

The 18-year-old from Mordovia produced a burst of acceleration 600m from the line to take the 10,000m Race Walk gold medal in 45:41.74 on Wednesday morning.

It wasn't a personal best, she clocked a world-leading 44:30.49 when winning the Russian junior title in Moscow last month, but in the heat and humidity of the Mediterranean port city at the height of the summer, it was more than enough for victory.

“I've been working hard for this since the World Race Walking Cup in May. I finished fourth there and was determined not to go home without a medal and hopefully a gold,” reflected Russia's first gold medallist of the Championships.

“I was disappointed not to get on the podium in Saransk as I was racing at home there. Since then, my training group were all joking that I have been sent to these Championships to get a gold medal.”

Medvedeva trains in Saransk alongside some of the current luminaries of Russian race walking including IAAF World Race Walking Cup winner senior women's winner Yelena Lashmanova and the current Olympic and World 20km Walk champion Olga Kaniskina.

Lashmanova legacy

“I train with all of them, all the big names, even the men like (2008 Olympic Games and two-time IAAF World Championships 20km walk winner Valeriy) Borchin. I'm not their little sister, I'm treated the same as everyone else and they don't give me any special treatment although Yelena (Lashmanova) gave me some advice about this competition as she won two years ago in Canada.

“It's an honour to follow in Yelena's footsteps, look what she has done since winning at the World Junior Championships. After I have a little break, I'm going to start training again so that I can do what she did and win a European title after a World Junior Championships gold medal. I now truly believe in myself after winning here,” she added casting her eyes ahead to next summer when she will still be eligible for the 2013 European Athletics Junior Championships, which will be held in the Italian town of Rieti.

In fact, Medvedeva made it a hat-trick of Russian victories in the event at the World Junior Championships as Lashmanova was preceded by Tatyana Mineyeva in 2008 and it was the fifth Russian triumph since 2000.

With Nadzhda Leontyeva taking the silver medal in Barcelona, it is also the third successive Championships in which Russia has gone one-two in the women's walk.

Sun fun

Medvedeva now plans to celebrate, with probably Leontyeva in tow, just like they were down the home straight in the Montjuic Olympic stadium on Tuesday morning, by spending some time on Barcelona's famed beach, lapping up the sun and the sea.

“And eating ice creams!” added a smiling Medvedeva, with a nod to the famously Spartan regime back home which has produced so many champions.

“I plan to go back to Saransk with a little bit of a sun tan, a little bit brown as I have rather pale skin, and the sun here is very nice.”

“I can now have an easy time for a few weeks before starting the hard work again. I will be watching the Olympics in front of the television and cheering on the Russian walkers. I know them all well and so it is something more personal for me, it is something more than just cheering for Russia; and I am sure they will do very well.”

Hopefully, back home in Saransk, the London-bound walkers were also in front of the TV screens giving a cheer for their latest heroine.

Phil Minshull for the IAAF