04 AUG 2009 Preview

Men's 20 Kilometres Race Walk - PREVIEW

Valeriy Borchin celebrates his 20km walk victory (Getty Images)Valeriy Borchin celebrates his 20km walk victory (Getty Images) © Copyright
Reigning Olympic champion Valeriy Borchin (RUS) heads the competitors for the 20km walk in Berlin. The 23-year-old won his first major title in Beijing in commanding fashion and is the number one favourite in Berlin too. Borchin has the world leading 1:17:38 mark from February and is unbeaten in his three races this season.

Olympic bronze medallist Jared Tallent (AUS) and fourth place finisher Wang Hao (CHN) are the best picks to challenge the Russian. Tallent won two medals in Beijing also finishing with a silver medal in the 50km race and has a 1:19:42 season’s best from 2009. Wang Hao will be 20 years old on 16 August, but is still a major player in the race walking scene. He missed a medal by only five seconds in Beijing and won the IAAF Race Walking Challenge in Rio Maior with a 1:19:27 personal best earlier this season.

32-year-old former World record holder (1:17:22 in 2002) Francisco Javier Fernández has won three silvers in a row at the World Championships 2003/2005/2007 but the Spaniard seems to be some way from his best form this season. In Beijing he finished in seventh place. In 2009 Fernández has competed twice over the 20km distance winning on both occasions with a season’s best 1:19:57 coming in the Sesto San Giovanni IAAF Race Walking Challenge event.

Other contenders include Italians Giorgio Rubino and Ivano Brugnetti. The 32-year-old veteran Brugnetti was very close to a medal with his fifth place finish in Beijing and has won the Mediterranean Games 20km race this summer. Brugnetti is also not a stranger to major wins -- he won the World Championships 50km in 1999 and Olympic 20km in 2004. 22-year-old Rubino is coming to Berlin from a very different approach having not won a major medal yet. The young Italian did finish fifth at the 2007 World Championships 20km and has already won the European Cup this season.

Chinese Chu Yafei and Li Jianbo are also in good form and Eder Sánchez (MEX) and Erik Tysse (NOR) have recorded fast times this season. The Mexican has already come close to World Championships success twice as he was 8th in 2005 and 4th in 2007 in the 20km.

Mirko Jalava for the IAAF