Vera Sokolova of Russia sped to a World record* in the women’s 20Km Race Walk at the Russian Winter Walking Championships in Sochi, Russia on Saturday (26).
The 23-year-old former World Junior and Youth champion clocked 1:25:08 to shatter the previous mark of 1:25:41 set by compatriot Olimpiada Ivanova at the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki, Finland.
Usually and traditionally these national championships take place in Adler, near Sochi, But this time the race walkers competed in the centre of the city. Unlike previous years, when fast times were registered at these championships, three international judges were on hand so everything went according to IAAF rules and regulations for record purposes.
Sokolova was aggressive from the start. Tatyana Sybileva, Tatyana Shemeyakina and the silver medal winner at the 2010 European Championships Anisiya Kirdyapkina provided a tough challenge from the outset. Sybileva and Shemeyakina were eventually disqualified but Kirdyapkina, wife of former World champion Sergei Kirdyapkin, fought on until the final dramatic moments when she was unable to catch Sokolova.
Kirdyapkina finished just one second behind in 1:29:09. Anna Luckyanova finishd third in 1:27:49, an extremely promising debut over the 20 kilometre distance.
In spite of her age Sokolova is not a novice in race walking. In addition to her World Youth and Junior titles, she took bronze at last year’s European championships.
Vladimir Kanaykin was the fastest in Men’s 20Km, clocking 1:19:14, the fastest in the world this season. Sergei Morozov was second in 1:20:08 and Andrei Krivov third (1:20:16).
The nationals began with the men’s 35Km. While not a traditional or standard distance, it is popular among Russian race walkers and is considered to be the prelude to 50Km distance. Igor Erokhin won the champion’s laurels clocking 2:26.36. The well-known Denis Nizhegorodov cherished in Russia for his courage made a comeback after a one-year absence due to injury, and finished second in 2:27.08. Another Denis whose family name is Strelkov got the bronze clocking 2:27.52.
It should be noted that all nine medal winners have the same coach: Victor Chegin. So the school of race walkers of Saransk turned out yet again to be the best in Russia. And not only.
Chegin said that his most well-known athletes, Olympic champions Olga Kaniskina and Valeriy Borchin as well as World champion Sergei Kirdyapkin, didn’t take part in the championships as that they were preparing for the season according to their training program.
Vasilyeva breaks World junior 10,000m Race Walk record
On the second day of action, held on the track at Tsentralniy Stadium on Sunday (27), Svetlana Vasilyeva smashed the World junior record* in the 10,000m Race Walk clocking 42:43. Her mark bettered the existing mark of 43:11.34 set by Sokolova in Kaunas in 2005.
Yelena Lashmanova, the 2010 World junior champion, was second clocking 43:41.
Nickolai Dolgopolov and Rostislav Orlov for the IAAF
* pending the usual ratification procedures