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Eder Sanchez from Mexico and Russian Tatyana Sibileva took the honours at the 55th edition of the Coppa Città di Sesto San Giovanni, the Italian leg of the IAAF Race Walking Challenge, held in very hot conditions on Sunday.
Sanchez, World bronze medallist in the 20 km in 2009, won in 1:24:52 in a race badly affected by a temperature of 34°C. Russian Petr Trofimov finshed second in 1:25:32 ahead of Japanese Yusuke Suzuki (1:26:42).
Russian Tatiana Sibileva took the win in the women’s 20 km race in 1:30:35 on a very warm morning with a temperature of 29°C. Olive Loughnane from Ireland, World silver medallist in 2009 finished runner-up in 1:31:33 ahead of Claire Tallent (wife of double 20 and 50 km Olympic medallist Jared Tallent), third in 1:32:39. Warm weather conditions certainly took their toll on final times.
Men’s race –
Japanese walkers Yusuke Suzuki and Takayuki Tanii and Russian Trofimov went to the lead in the early stages of the race passing the 5 km mark in 20:58. Sanchez chose a more conservative tactic which would pay off at the end. The Mexican walker passed at 5 km in 21:15.
Suzuki and Trofimov pulled away from Tanji at 7 km. The leading duo continued to walk in the front at 10 km which they reached in 42:03, while Sanchez was in third position with a halfway split of 42:35.
After the 10 km mark the pace faded because of the heat. At 15 km Trofimov and Suzuki led by 21 seconds over Sanchez (1:03:47 to 1:04:08). The 5 km split between 10 km and 15 km was clocked in 21:44 slower than the first two 5 km splits (21:15 at 5 km and 21:20 between 5 km and 10 km).
Sanchez began closing the gap after 15 km and during the penultimate lap at 18 km the Mexican walker caught Trofimov, while Suzuki faded in the final stages of the race but managed to defend his third place despite a slow 44:40 in the second half in very hard conditions.
Sanchez walked faster in the second half clocking 42:17 (20:44 between 15 and 20 km).
"My tactic was perfect and it paid off," Sanchez said. "My opponents pushed hard at the beginning. I am used to these conditions in Mexico and I kept my head wet. I am now going to St. Moritz for one month to prepare for the Olympic Games in London."
Federico Tondonati beat Jean Jacques Nkouloukidi to take seventh place in 1:28:37 and won the Italian 20 km race title.
Women’s race –
The women’s race set off at a conservative pace from the Pino Dordoni athletics track. Four women - Loughnane, Tallent, Sibileva and Korotkova took the lead forming the leading pack in the early stages. Loughnane and Tallent went to the front of the four-women pack going through at 5 km in 22:58.
Korotkova was the first to be dropped after 28 minutes. The leading trio formed by Sibileva, Loughnane and Tallent continued to push going through at 10 km in 46:05 with 57 seconds over Korotkova.
Sibileva, who finished second at the 2008 World Cup in Cheboksary and clocked a PB of 1:25:52 in 2010, pushed hard despite the unfavourable conditions after the 10 km mark and took a solid lead. The Russian walker increased her gap to 38 seconds over Loughnane at 15 km (1:08:14 to 1:08:52) and to 1:02 over Tallent. Sibileva clocked the fastest 5 km between 10 and 15 km in 22:09.
The following 5 km split between 15 and 20 km was not as fast as the previous (22:15) but it was enough to take a comfortable win in 1:30:35.
"I like hot weather but today it caused me a lot of problems especially in the second half," Sibileva sad. "I wanted to show that I am among the best walkers in the world."
Loughnane did not complain about the conditions despite the big change from rainy conditions in her country. "When the heat started to kick in, it became very tough but it was the same for everybody. In my country it was cold with a temperature of 10°C with a lot of rain. We have to be prepared for all conditions. Everybody says that it will be rainy at the Olympics in London but it may be possible that it is going to be warm. Little by little my shape is going to be better," said Loughnane, who added that she’ll spend four weeks near Granada to prepare for London.
Tallent took her second spot on the podium in this year’s IAAF Walking Challenge after finishing second in Chihuahua but the result let her down a bit. "I am disappointing. I picked up a couple of yellow cards and I could not push," she said.
Federica Ferraro, seventh at the 2006 World Junior Championships in Beijing and 21th at the recent World Cup in Saransk, finished seventh in 1:37:43 to win the Italian title.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
Leading Results of the Coppa Città di Sesto San Giovanni:
Men’s race - 1 Eder Sanchez (Mexico) 1:24:52 2 Petr Trofimov (Russia) 1:25:22 3 Yusuke Suzuki (Japan) 1:26:42 4 Luke Adams (Australia) 1:27:01 5 Kevin Campion (France) 1:28:06 6 Francisco Arcilla (Spain) 1:28:11 7 Federico Tondonati (Italy) 1:28:37 8 Jean Jacques Nkouloukidi (Italy) 1:29:04 9 Teodorico Caporaso (Italy) 1:29:16 10 Takajuki Tanji (Japan) 1:29:45