Ines Henriques winning at the 2013 IAAF Race Walking Challenge meeting in La Coruna (Luis Francisco Fiaño) © Copyright
Preview Rio Maior, Portugal

Home race walkers set to star in Rio Maior

Portugal’s Ana Cabecinha and Ines Henriques will be vying for the victory on Saturday (1) at the Rio Maior Race Walking Grand Prix, the fourth leg of the IAAF World Race Walking Challenge.

Cabecinha, who has finished in the top eight at six global championships, beat Henriques to the Portuguese title earlier this year. Earlier this month she finished one place ahead of her domestic rival at the IAAF World Race Walking Challenge meeting in Ciudad Juarez, but Henriques gained revenge in Monterrey one week later to finish runner-up as Cabecinha was third.

Henriques, now 36, has been given the No.1 bib for this weekend’s race as it will be her 100th competition at 20km. Earlier this year she set a 50km world record, pending ratification, of 4:08:26.

The Portuguese duo will face Colombia’s Sandra Lorena Arenas, winner in Adelaide earlier this year and fifth at Ciudad Juarez, just 18 seconds behind Henriques. Guatemala’s Mirna Ortiz, who set a national record of 1:28:31 when finishing second in Rio Maior in 2013, will also be returning to the race, while Peruvian record-holder Kimberley Garcia will be making her Rio Maior debut.

A new champion will be crowned in this year’s women’s race as none of the athletes on the 2017 start list have previously won in Rio Maior.

The same, however, can’t be said of the men’s race where 2015 winner Eider Arevalo takes on 2014 winner Caio Bonfim.

Arevalo, who finished seventh at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015, won in Ciudad Juarez earlier this month. Brazil’s Bonfim finished a distant 22nd in Ciudad Jerez, but leads Arevalo in their career head-to-head record and finished well ahead of the Colombian at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, where he was fourth.

Other contenders include Guatemala’s 2012 Olympic silver medallist Erick Barrondo, Colombia’s 2011 world champion Luis Fernando Lopez, recent Lugano winner Alex Wright and British record-holder Tom Bosworth, who finished sixth at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The likes of Colombia’s Esteban Soto, Argentina’s Juan M Cano, Greece’s Alexandros Papamichail, Tunisia’s Hassanine Sbai and Sweden’s Perseus Karlstrom could also be in contention.

António Manuel Fernandes for the IAAF