04 MAY 2006 General News

Record number of countries to compete in La Coruña

Olimpiada Ivanova of Russia celebrates winning the 20km race walk in a new World record time (Getty Images)Olimpiada Ivanova of Russia celebrates winning the 20km race walk in a new World record time (Getty Images) © Copyright

MonteCarlo The 22nd edition of the IAAF World Race Walking Cup which takes place in just over one week’s time in La Coruña, Spain (13 / 14 May), has attracted the greatest ever number of IAAF Member Federations to compete at this World Athletics Series competition.

Athletes from a total of 63 nations had entered for La Coruña, when the final entry deadline was reached at midnight on 1 May, which is a substantial increase on the next best gathering of 56 at the 1999 edition of the IAAF World Race Walking Cup in Mézidon Deauville, France.

Two of the senior race winners from the last edition in Naumburg, Germany, in 2004, Ecuador’s World champion Jefferson Perez (men 20km) and Russia’s World silver medallist Aleksey Voyevodin (men 50km), return in search of a third consecutive win.

The women’s 20km will see a new winner, as Naumburg victor Yelena Nikolayeva of Russia isn’t competing but her countrywoman World champion Olimpiada Ivanova, twice a World Cup silver medallist, goes for her third individual medal. The current leader of the women's Standings in the 2006 IAAF Race Walking Challenge, Claudia Stef of Romania is also entered. La Coruña is the final event of this year’s Challenge.

Robert Korzeniowski of Poland, arguably the greatest race walker of all-time, but now retired, returns in the guise of a Spanish team official, as he now coaches local hero, Francisco Javier Fernandez. Perhaps via the fleet feet of Spain’s World and Olympic 20km silver medallist, the Pole, at least in coaching terms, has a chance to secure his first ever World Cup win, though Italy’s Olympic 20km champion Ivano Brugnetti and of course Perez will have something say about that! Korzeniowski, the three-time World and four-time Olympic champion, was second over 20km in 2004, which was his best ever World Cup showing.

Chris Turner for the IAAF

NB. detailed competition previews will be published next week