13 MAY 2006 General News La Coruña, Spain

Morozov start-to-finish - Junior Men's 10km race

Sergey Morozov victorious in La Coruna (Getty Images)Sergey Morozov victorious in La Coruna (Getty Images) © Copyright

Russian juniors dominate the rankings from times walked ahead of this race, and Sergey Morozov lived up to his billing as the world's leading performer after a start-to-finish victory.

His only challenger was the 16-year-old sensation from China, Li Gaobo, who in April won the senior 20km at the IAAF Grand Prix in Yangzhou. His 1:18:18 that day outpaced even senior champions such as Nathan Deakes and Ilya Markov.

A leading trio of Marazov and Li, together with Yong Shi, also of China, walked the first two kilometre lap in a fast 7:48 - 39 minute pace - more than a minute-and-a-half faster than the winning time in the first World Cup 10km walk at Naumburg in 2004.

The Mexicans Jose Sanchez and Rafael Ramon Avendaño were the closest pursuers, ending the first lap already 11 seconds behind.

Settling at 4:05/4:06 pace, the leading trio pulled ahead but shortly after the half-way point, third placed Yong Shi was shown the red disqualification disk having already dropped back to 12 seconds behind Morozov, who had himself produced a two second gap over Gaobo Li.

However, Li, too, was disqualified shortly after six kilometres, leaving Morozov's nearest challengers as the two Mexicans already over a minute off the leader's pace.

At 7km Aleksey Grigoryev (RUS) moved up to within a second of the two Mexicans, then quickly overhauled Avendaño and moved up to jointly contest second place with Sanchez.

At 4:06 kilometre pace Morozov looked easy and relaxed - and reached the bell with no worries about his technique as he had no warnings on the board.

Sanchez and Grigoryev reached the bell 1:22 behind Morozov, and at the second to last turn the Russian could afford to look back down the course for sight of his nearest challenger. After checking, he knew he had no need to rush unduly - the red vested Russian could have afforded time to inspect the horticultural display within the roundabout presented in a fortuitous matching blooms by La Coruña's city gardeners.

With a 4:10 last kilometre Morozov claimed the victory for Russia but behind him, to cheers from a crowd buoyed by Paquillo's win earlier, Grigoryev lost his second placing to Miguel Ángel Lopez.

The Spaniard applauded the crowd as he claimed the silver medal. "I thought I could be in the first five but never expected second!" he said after rapidly recovering his breath.

Russia won the team event with four points (two to score), ahead of Belarus (Dzmitry Hamzunou sixth and Dzianis Krauchuk eighth), then Spain for whom Abdelilah Jaadar in 26th place completed the team for the host nation.

The 16-year-old Morozov, who comes from Saransk, the capital of the Russian Republic of Mordovia, has only been competing at race walking for three years having been a runner prior to that.

"I was pretty sure of the victory when the Second Chinese (Li) was disqualified," he said after the race. "I could see a bit big gap behind me. I wanted to get under 40 minutes but it was difficult on my own."

Tim Watt for the IAAF