19 February 2012Pupils of famed coach Victor Chegin dominated at the Russian winter national Race Walking championships in Sochi.
Held Saturday (18) in the city that will host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, thew weather corresponded to the name of those Games as the Walkers were obliged to compete against the snow and cold rain.
It was decided that two stars - Olga Kaniskina and Anisiya Kirdiapkina – wouldn’t take part in the Women’s 20 km race. Chegin was sure that in their absence it would be Vera Sokolova who’d win. But she was later disqualified.
As a result it was Elmira Alembekova who finished first with a 1:25:27 personal best, an excellent performanceby the 21-year-old race walker! The 19-year-old Yelena Lashpanova was second, a minute behind the new champion, clocking 1:26:30. Irina Umanova, 21, clocked 1:26:47 and finished third. The trio also won the national U-23 titles in a race run simultaneously.
The 25-year-old Andrei Ruzavin clocked 1:17:45 to take the men’s 20 km title, five seconds ahead of the 23-year-old Sergei Morozov. World University Games champion Andrei Krivov got the well deserved bronze – 1:18.24. Stanislav Emelyanenko who is 21 got the laurels in the Russian Championships for U-23. The glorious quartet of Chegin’s pupils occupied the first four lines at the world’s top list results of the season.
While the 35-kilometre distance is not a standard one for race walkers it is traditional for the Russian nationals. Two-time World 50km champion Sergey Kirdyapkin won it clocking a personal best of 2:25.41. Unexpectedly it was 20-year-old Mikhail Ryzhov who gained the silver medal in 2:25:28. Ivan Noskov was third in 2:26:32.
It should be noted that all the athletes mentioned except Umanova, who started her career in the Republic of Chuvashiya, are the pupils of Chegin. The Russian winter nationals were again dominated by walkers from the Republic of Mordovia.
Chegin who recently celebrated his 50th birthday, was evidently happy but as always laconic in his replies to our questions.
“Yes, I’m satisfied with the results of our nationals. It means that in the Olympic season we are on our right track," Chegin said.
"What did I like most of all? I would surely say that for me the achievements of our young racers mean a lot. Look – most of the medalists are young and gained the victories not only in the Russian nationals but in the Championships for U-23. The only thing that distressed me is the disqualification of Vera Sokolova – she is a gifted race walker and her disqualification was unexpected. But in our events it happens so we do not lose our hopes.”
Nickolai Dolgopolov and Rostislav Orlov for the IAAF