Reigning 50 km Olympic champion and 20 km European bronze medallist Alex Schwazer topped the bill at the Memorial Mario Albisetti in Lugano, Switzerland, on Sunday (18) with a sensational win in the men’s 20 km Race Walk in 1:17:30, a new Italian record.
This was the second time that Schwazer broke the Italian record in Lugano. Two years ago the Sudtyrol walker from Racines near Vipiteno cancelled the long-standing Italian record held by Maurizio Damilano with 1:18:24 on 14 March 2010.
Schwazer moves up to No. 6 all-time - Men’s race
With his jaw-dropping performance Schwazer set the world seasonal best time and the sixth fastest time in history over the distance and missed the World record held by Russian Vladimir Kanaykin since 29 September 2007 by just 14 seconds. In the 2012 world list Schwazer overtakes the previous world seasonal best set by Russian Andrey Ruzavin on 18 February in Sochi.
Schwazer did not start the race with the goal to break the record but just to test his condition one week before his much-awaited debut over the 50km in Dudince, Slovakia.
Schwazer had always led the race together with Erick Garcia Barrondo (tenth at the World Championships in Daegu) from Guatemala until 15km. The first part of the race did not indicate a possible attack on the Italian record. Schwazer and Barrondo went through 5km in 19:40 and 10km in 39:06. European 50km champion Yohan Diniz followed in third place not far behind in 39:15. They passed the 15km mark in 58:32 thanks to a 10-15 km split clocked in 19:26. At 15km Diniz managed to catch up with Schwazer and Barrondo and a trio formed by Schwazer, Barrondo and Diniz was in the lead.
Schwazer produced a sensational negative split in which he clocked 18:58 in the final 5km and 3:33 in the final kilometre in which he managed to break away from Diniz. At 16km Barrondo lost ground. Diniz finished runner-up in a hugely impressive 1:17:43 ahead of Garcia Barrondo who clocked the fastest time in his career with 1:18:25.
“When I spoke with my coach Michele Didoni, I predicted a final 1:18:30 and at the end I was one minute faster ! I did not expect this time but I planned to reach good shape in this period of the year. I worked very hard, so it is not a complete surprise. Walking neck and neck with Diniz gave me the strength to keep the pace fast. I knew I had energy in my body,” said Schwazer.
“I am sure that I will not have any problems in recovering for next week’s 50 km race in Dudince where my main goal is to set the qualifying standard for London over the longer distance.”
“Training in ideal conditions in Settimo Milanese with my coach Michele Didoni without distractions has contributed to my recent results. I found a new enthusiasm after a difficult period and this result is a confidence-booster but I keep my feet on the ground. I have still a lot of work to do before the Olympic Games.
Nazar Kovalenko from Ukraine dipped under 1:20 in fourth place in 1:19:55 ahead of his compatriot Ruslan Dmytrenko (1:20:19). The Italian good day was completed by Matteo Giupponi who set the qualifying standard for the Olympic Games in London with 1:20:5.
Women’s race -
Russian Tatiana Sibileva won the women’s race in 1:28:03 ahead of Guatemala’s Sucely Flores Ortiz Mirna (1:28:54) and Olympic bronze medallist and Daegu fourth placer Elisa Rigaudo (1:29:54).
Five women (Sibileva, Ortiz, Rigaudo, Mayra Carolina Herrera Perez and Olena Shumkina from the Ukraine) formed the leading group who went through the 5km in 22:30.
Ortiz pulled away at 7km followed by Sibileva. Rigaudo was in third place with Shumkina.
Sibileva remained in the lead with Ortiz, while Rigaudo was alone in third place because Shumkina lost ground.
Sibileva broke away at 15km. The Russian walker increased her gap to 51 seconds. Rigaudo closed the gap on Ortiz but it was not enough to notch up second place. For the Italian it’s the second qualifying time of the season for the London Olympic Games.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
Leading results from the Memorial Mario Albisetti in Lugano
1. Alex Schwazer (Italy) 1:17:30
2. Yohann Diniz (France) 1:17:43
3. Erick Bernabe Barrondo Garcia (Guatemala) 1:18:25
4. Nazar Kovalenko (Ukraine) 1:19:55
5. Ruslan Dmytrenko (Ukraine) 1:20:19
6. Robert Heffernan (Ireland) 1:20:39
7. Ivan Losev (Ukraine) 1:20:48
8. Bertrand Moulinet (France) 1:20:52
9. Matteo Giupponi (Italy) 1:20:58
10. Alexandros Papamicheli (Greece) 1:21:19
1. Tatiana Sibileva (Russia) 1:28:03
2. Sycely Ortiz Flores Mirna (Guatemala) 1:28:54
3. Elisa Rigaudo (Italy) 1:29:25
4. Amarillia Franco Nuñez Jamy (Guatemala) 1:30:57
5. Mayra Carolina Herrera Perez (Guatemala) 1:31:03
6. Brigita Virbalyté (Lithuania) 1.31:08
7. Despoina Zaponidou (Greece) 1:31:08
8. Katarzyna Kwoka (Poland) 1:31:25
9. Olena Shumkina (Ukraine) 1:31:55
10. Olive Loughnane (Ireland) 1:32:26