|10 Kilometres Race Walk||39:11||Voronovo||16 SEP 2012|
|20 Kilometres Race Walk||1:21:49||Sochi||26 FEB 2011|
|35 Kilometres Race Walk||2:25:59||Sochi||18 FEB 2012|
|50 Kilometres Race Walk||3:38:58||Moskva (Luzhniki)||14 AUG 2013|
|5000 Metres Race Walk||19:09.86||Samara||30 JAN 2014|
|2013||3:38:58||Moskva (Luzhniki)||14 AUG|
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Created 22 April 2014
Mikhail RYZHOV, Russia (50km Race Walk)
Born 17 December 1991, Ingener Pyatina, Mordovia
1.80m / 64 kg
Coaches: Viktor Chegin, Vladimir Dragunov
The 50 km race walk is considered an event for experienced athletes. But Mikhail Ryzhov mounted the Moscow 2013 World Championships podium to get his silver medal when he was only 21. And it’s hard to believe, but it was just his third shot at this gruelling race.
However, his relationship with athletics started quite a few years ago. The active boy from a small village in Mordovia was doing every sport he could. He even tried to move his father’s kettlebells, when he was little. Mikhail Ryzhov-senior was quite keen on weightlifting. Mikhail should be thankful to his older sister Lilya for getting into athletics. She once suggested that Mikhail should join her athletics training group. “She just didn’t want to walk 4km to get to the training session alone, she needed some company, I gave it a try and never left,” Ryzhov smiles.
His sister was a runner, and she kept training through her university years, however, she decided to put more emphasis on her finance studies, while running remained a hobby. For Mikhail it was the other way around. He started off as a distance runner under the guidance of Vladimir Dragunov, focussing on the 3,000m and 5,000m. But after the tenth grade at a summer training camp he was noticed by race walking coaches and was invited to join Victor Chegin’s Olympic Training Center in Saransk. “I was literally going to school once a week, spending the rest of the time in Saransk, training,” Ryzhov recalls. “But coach Dragunov was always telling me about the importance of education, so after graduation I entered the Mordovian State University, Physical Education department,” he adds.
Ryzhov’s first ever race walking competition happened to be a quite big international event - the IAAF World Race Walking Challenge Final, held in Saransk in September 2009. Mikhail, having spent just about a year at the OTC by that time, working with the junior coaches, finished last, 35th, in 50:57 for 10km. “Oh boy, it was so hard! But it was worth it, as after that race Victor Chegin actually invited me to join his training group,” the athlete explains.
In 2010, still a junior, Ryzhov kept on racing over the 10km, and significantly reduced his personal best. He placed third at the Russian Junior Championships in 42:08.
One year later, in 2011, Mikhail placed seventh at both winter and summer Russian Championships in the 20km race walk, clocking 1:21:49 and 1:22:17, respectively. It was enough for a young athlete to be selected to represent Russia at the World Universiade in Shenzhen, China, along with Andrey Ruzavin and Andrey Krivov. Ryzhov was following the more experienced Krivov throughout the race and walked all the way to the silver medal, clocking 1:24:26, while his compatriot took the title. “It was a tough race, mostly because of the weather. It was extremely hot, at the beginning of the race it was already about 28o C, and the humidity was around 80%. And I didn’t actually expect to get a medal there,” the Russian notes.
In 2012, coach Chegin decided that it was time for Mikhail to already step up to the longer distance. At the Russian Winter Championships, the 20-year-old placed second in the 35km race, only losing to the two-time World Champion Sergey Kirdyapkin. Mikhail’s 50km debut took place at another international event, held on his home soil - the IAAF World Race Walking Cup Saransk 2012. Ryzhov struggled late in the race and finished 18th in 3:53.49. Coach Chegin was happy with this performance, but Ryzhov was just fourth among the Russians, which meant he didn’t get a team spot for the London 2012 Olympics.
Mikhail’s first international breakthrough in the 50km came in May 2013, at the European Race Walking Cup. He placed second behind the World and European 50,000 metres track record holder from France Yohan Diniz, registering a personal best of 3:44:41. Most importantly, he was the fastest among the Russians, earning the berth on the team for the home Championships in Moscow
After Sergey Kirdyapkin was a late withdrawal from the World Championships team due to an illness, the Russian pride in the 50km race walk was in hands of the two youngsters and best friends, Ryzhov and Ivan Noskov. Not many athletics pundits bet on the Russians to win, with such experienced athletes as Diniz, Australia’s Jarred Tallent and Ireland’s Robert Heffernan lined up. But Ryzhov and Noskov started to lead the race right from the gun. Jarred Tallent was with them by the 10km mark and after 20km they were caught by the chase group, but kept walking among the leaders. At the 38 km mark, Heffernan started his surge, and Ryzhov was the only one trying to keep up with the Irishman. Robert was able to get away from Mikhail, but the silver went to the Russian. Ryzhov finished second with a huge personal best of 3:38:58.
“The race plan was pretty much not to pay attention to the rivals, and just keep the target pace. Last 10km were hard. After 40km I realised, that I couldn’t maintain Heffernan’s pace, after 45km - that I had no chance to catch him,” Ryzhov said in an interview for RusAthletics.com right after the finish. But giving up on a medal in front of the home crowd wasn’t an option, especially while his aunt and his girlfriend, the World Junior Champion in the race walking Yekaterina Medvedeva, were cheering for him on the course.
After the successful season, Ryzhov had some time to spend in his native village, spending time with his family. His training partners joined him for a few days to go fishing and hunting. “I actually love animals, because we’ve always had cows, pigs, hens, even horses. I also have a passion for dogs, once I had three dogs at a time. But hunting has historically been quite a natural pastime for humans. But, in fact, I hardly ever shoot,” Mikhail admitted in an interview for the “Izvestiya Mordovii” newspaper.
He has another hobby that keeps him entertained at the training camps. Mikhail recently bought a guitar, downloaded learning software and started regularly practicing, right at the OTC. “Coach was really surprised to hear sounds of music, that didn’t happen before at the OTC, for sure,” Ryzhov laughs.
This season, after winning the Russian Winter Championships in the 35km race walk OK, confirmed, Ryzhov once again finds himself as a leader of the national team in the 50km for a major event - the IAAF World Race Walking Cup in Taicang, China. However, the Russian doesn’t really accept the leader’s status. “We have one leader, it is Sergey Kirdyapkin. Even though, he is not competing at the moment,” he explains.
The Russian expects the Chinese team to perform much better at home than at Saransk 2012 and Moscow 2013. But he has his own goals to achieve in Taicang. “I’m aiming to qualify for the European Championships, and to finish in the top six,” the World medallist reveals.
20km RW: 1:21:49 (2011)
50km RW: 3:38:58 (2013)
10km RW/20km RW/50km RW 2009: 50:57/-/-; 2010: 42:08/-/-; 2011: 40:30/1:21:49/-; 2012: 39:11/-/3:53:49; 2013: -/-/3:38:58; 2014: -/-/2:28:11 (35km)
2011 2nd World Universiade (Shenzhen) (20km RW) 1:24:26
2012 18th World Race Walking Cup (Saransk) (50km RW) 3:53:49
2013 2nd European Cup Race Walking (Dudince) (50km RW) 3:44:41
2013 2nd World Championships (Moscow) (50km RW) 3:38:58
Prepared by Elena Dyachkova for the IAAF “Focus on Athletes” project. Copyright IAAF 2014