19 APR 2004 General News Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico sends a young team to Naumburg

  Mexico will be represented by seven men at the 21st IAAF World Race Walking Cup in Naumburg, Germany, May 1-2, because the country's best athletes are training for the 20km Olympic trials in June.

Rogelio Sanchez, Jaime Gonzalez and Miguel Solis are the only men with previous World Cup experience.

Sanchez, 30, was 51st at the 1999 World Cup in Mézidon-Canon, France. In Torino 2002, he was disqualified in the 50km race. He finished seventh with a personal best of 3:51:41 during the inaugural IAAF Race Walking Challenge in Tijuana, last March.

Jaime Gonzalez, 26, was 65th at the 50km in the 1999 World Cup. His personal best is 4:01:05 from 2002. He finished 12th in Tijuana last month with 4:14:51.

Solis, 33, is a veteran from the 1993 World Cup in Monterrey, where he finished 30th at the 50km. Two years later, he placed 27th over the 20km in 1995.

Juan Emilio Toscano is the fourth member of the 50km team. The 23-year old has a personal best of 4:04:31 from 2002 and competed in Naumburg last year.

The 20km squad features 20-year old Alvaro García (1:30:22), brother of the 1997 world champion Daniel Garcia, Gabriel Ortiz and 19-year old José Alfredo Pérez (1:29:44). Ortiz, 22, was twelfth over 20km in the Tijuana event with a new personal best of 1:24:19 and finished fourth in the 2003 national championships.

Eder Sánchez and Rosa Orozco, both 17, are registered to compete in the junior race.  Sánchez clinched the silver medal at the Pan American Junior Championships in Bridgetown, while Orozco was fifth at the 2003 World Youth Championships in Sherbrooke.

Women’s squad

The nation's top female race walkers will also miss the race as they will focus on the Olympic slots. Victoria Palacios already met the A standard with 1:32:04 to finish seventh in Tijuana last month. Maria del Rosario Sánchez (1:34:24) and Graciela Mendoza (1:37:28) met the B standard.

Athens squad confirmed

The men’s 50km trio for the Athens Olympics was already decided after Tijuana. Germán  Sánchez, Miguel Angel Rodríguez and Mario Iván Flores will be also absent in Germany to prepare for the Summer Games. 

Historically strong

Mexico has established itself as one of the world's leading Race Walking countries, with a pedigree that includes nine Olympic medals since 1968 that makes it the third most successful country in history, behind Russia and Germany.

Those nine medals also place Race Walking as the most successful discipline for Mexico in the history of the Olympic Games, together with diving.

World Cup success

Participation in Race Walking World Cups began in the eighth edition in Milton Keynes, Great Britain, in 1977. That year, Mexico took the top two positions in the 20km and 50km races, led by Daniel Bautista and Raul Gonzalez.

Women began to participate in New York (1987). Mexico also hosted the Race Walking World Cup in Monterrey, in 1993.

Overall, Mexico has claimed 16 team medals (7-2-7) and 23 individual medals (12-7-4) in the history of the event.

Past champions include Daniel Bautista (1977 and 1979), Ernesto Canto (1981), Carlos Mercenario (1987), Daniel Garcia (1993) and Bernardo Segura (1999).

The 50km gold medallists have been Raul Gonzalez (1977, 1981-83), Martin Bermudez (1979) and Carlos Mercenario (1991-93). Martin Bermudez, present in nine World Cups (1977-1995) and Graciela Mendoza, with seven appereances (1987-1999), have been the most permanent participants.

 Mendoza, 40, has claimed the nation's only female individual medal in the race when second in Monterrey'93. The women's team also won the bronze in 1991 and 1999.  Two years ago in Torino, Alejandro Lopez' third place in the 20km race was the best performance.