Ilya Markov from Russia and Margaryta Turava from Belarus claimed dominant wins at the Coppa Città di Sesto – IAAF World Race Walking Challenge - held in Sesto San Giovanni, near Milan.
Impressive outing for Markov
Markov, former World champion in the 20 Km in Seville in 1999, took an impressive win in 1:20:28, dominating the race from the 5 Km point when he pushed the pace leaving behind the rest of the field after a slow start. The Russian star, who is coached by Race Walk legend Robert Korzeniowski, passed the 10 km mark in 40:45 with a split between 5 km and 10 km in 19:40.
The battle for runner-up spot heated up on Markov’s shoulders. Erik Tysse, brother of former Olympic silver medallist Kjersti Tysse Plätzer, led the chasing group followed by Gabriel Ortiz, Eder Sanchez and Erick Guevara from Mexico. Some metres behind was Gustavo Restrepo from Colombia ahead of a pair formed by Hatem Ghoula from Tunisia and Joao Vieira from Portugal. In the fifth lap Ortiz went to second place overhauling Tysse and Restrepo.
Markov increased his lead in the second half of the race injecting a 5 Km split in 19:33 between the 10th and 15th kilomtres and his lead remained unchallenged until the finish.
The Russian, who finished runner-up in 1:18:18 in the Chinese leg of the IAAF Walking Challenge in Yangzhou, showed his recent great form with a 15 km split between 5km and 20 km in an impressive 58:33.
After Sanchez and Guevara were disqualified in the second half of the race, Ortiz remained in contention for second place with Tysse and Restrepo. Meanwhile Portugal’s Joao Vieira who, after a conservative start, made up plenty of distance in the second half.
With 2 Km to go Markov had a one-minute lead over Ortiz, while Vieira completed his impressive come-from-behind race overhauling Tysse and Restrepo. The final lap was full of drama with some changes in top positions due to disqualifications. Vieira went to second place after Ortiz and Restrepo were disqualified, reaching the finish line in 1:21:21, fifty-three seconds behind Markov. Tysse ended up in third in 1:21:30.
“We started slowly but this gave me the power for the remaining 15 km,” said Markov. “Today I wanted to win and score points for the IAAF Challenge. I will not compete in the World Cup because I did not compete in the Winter Championships in Russia. This means that I will focus on my preparation for the 50 km.” Next up for Markov is the Russian Championships next month, where he hopes to qualify for the European Championships in the 50 Km.
The Russian star attributed his successful season to his coach Korzeniowski. “Robert helped me a lot in my preparation. We have been friends for many years. He is the best in the world of walking events.”
Reigning Olympic champion Ivano Brugnetti from Italy pulled out at 10 km.
“I lost three months of training this winter, but I am still hopeful,” Brugnetti said. “I have time before the European Championships this summer. I wanted to clock 1:23 today. It is nothing special but I hoped that it could be a confidence-booster for the rest of the season. The thing I regret today is that I did not finish in the stadium in front of my friends and fans. But it is better to drop out today than in two weeks in La Coruna where I want to score points for the national team.”
The top Italian was Alessandro Gandellini who finished eleventh in 1:25:21 after a year hampered by many physical problems.
Successful defence for Turava
Turava, World silver medallist in the 20 Km, notched her second consecutive win at the Coppa Città di Sesto San Giovanni.
Turava, then younger sister of 1500 metres and 3000 metres steeplechase specialist Alesya Turava, crossed the finish line in 1:29:22, beating Romania’s Claudia Stef (1:29:59) and Germany’s Sabine Zimmer (1:30:06).
Nine women formed the lead group walking at a conservative pace, clocking 23:04 in the first 5 Km. Turava was the first to take the initiative but she was closely followed by Stef, Melanie Seeger and Zimmer.
Turava, who recently set a national record in the event at the national championships with 1:26:11, began to push the pace after reaching the half in 45:31, with a 22:23 split between kilometres five and 10. Turava pulled away with a 2 Km split in 8:43 and built up a gap of nine seconds.
Her victory was no longer under threat after building a solid 21-second margin on the chasing pair of Zimmer and Stef at 15 Km (1:07:20). Two seconds behind in fourth position followed Jane Saville, the reigning Commonwealth champion.
Turava produced an impressive second half, faster than the first, clocking 43:50 in the second 10 Km.
“I could walk faster today but I did not want to push two weeks before the World Cup in La Coruna,” Turava said. “I am very confident for La Coruna because I know that I am in good form. I don’t fear my rivals because I believe in my capabilities.”
Zimmer, a native of Potsdam, was happy with her third place showing ahead of compatriot Seeger, the winner in Rio Major earlier this year.
“In the first part we started slowly and I decided to stay in the pack,” Zimmer said. “Then Turava pushed the pace. It was difficult in the final kilometres but I am very glad because I got the qualifying standard for the European Championships. But I want to be in form in two weeks for la Coruna where I want to finish in the top ten.”
Former World Walking Challenge winner Elisa Rigaudo and her training partner Alex Schwazer, World 50 Km bronze medallist in Helsinki, pulled out of the race because they preferred to rest after a period of hard training at altitude in Peru. But according to the Italian Athletics Federation technical director Nicola Silvaggi, they are in good shape and will be ready for the IAAF World Cup in La Coruna.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
Men (49th edition):
1. Ilya Markov, Russia 1:20:28
2. Joao Vieira, Portugal 1:21:21
3. Erik Tysse, Norway 1:21:30
4. Hatem Ghoula, Tunisia 1:22:54
5. Roman Magdziarczyk, Poland 1:23:03
6. Juan Manuel Molina, Spain 1:24:20
7. Josè Antonio Gonzales, Spain 1:24:25
8. Juan Emilio Toscano, Mexico 1:24:30
9. Jesus Angel Bragado, Spain 1:24:45
10. Luis Manuel Corchete, Spain 1:24:48
11. Alessandro Gandellini, Italy 1:25:21
Women (27th edition):
1. Ryta Turava, Belarus 1:29:22
2. Claudia Stef, Romania 1:29:59
3. Sabine Zimmer, Germany 1:30:06
4. Melanie Seeger, Germany 1:30:19
5. Jane Saville, Australia 1:30:39
6. Norica Cimpean, Romania 1:30:41
7. Sonata Milausauskaite, Lithuania 1:31:02
8. Ines Henriques, Portugal 1:31:56
9. Vera Santos, Portugal 1:33:27
10. Veronica Budileanu, Romania 1:34:35