Jared Tallent of Australia on his way to bronze in Saransk (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News Sesto San Giovanni, Italy

Tallents in the spotlight in Sesto San Giovanni – IAAF Race Walking Challenge

The famous international Race Walking competition Coppa Città di Sesto San Giovanni, the Italian leg of the IAAF Race Walking Challenge, will celebrate the 55th edition of the men’s race, while the women’s competition will be held for the 33rd year on Sunday (17).

The staging of the the IAAF World Race Walking Cup in Saransk in mid-May was the reason for the date change of the Italian race from the traditional May Day holiday date.

The Sesto women’s race starts at 10 am from the Pino Dordoni athletics track which has named after walking legend Pino Dordoni, 1952 Olympic champion in the 50km in Helsinki. The men’s race sets off at 4 pm. This year’s edition incorporates the Italian Walking Championships.

Men’s race -

The favourites are Australian walking stars Luke Adams and Jared Tallent and Eder Sanchez from Mexico.

Tallent, double Olympic medallist in Beijing (bronze in the 20km and silver in the 50km), 2011 World bronze medallist in the 50km in Daegu and 20km Commonwealth champion in New Dehli 2010, recently showed very good form at the IAAF World Cup in Saransk where he finished third in the 50km in 3:40:32. The Aussie won the Australian and Oceania Championships in Hobart in February, which counts for the Challenge ranking, and finished fifth in the Chinese leg of the IAAF Challenge in Taicang.

Adams, three-time Commonwealth Games silver medallist in the 20km in 2002, 2006 and 2010 and fifth in the 50km at the 2011 World Championships, already took part many times in the Sesto San Giovanni race with a third place in 2005 as his best result.

Sanchez, the World Championships bronze medallist in the 20km in Berlin 2009 and third at the 2008 World Cup over the same distance, won the Chihuahua leg of this year’s World Challenge on home turf in 1:21:17 beating Tallent and finished second in Rio Major (Portugal) in 1:20:49.

In the IAAF Race Walking Challenge Tallent is currently ranked second with 30 points behind leader Wang Zhen from China. Sanchez follows in third position with 27 points.

Japan will send a strong team led by Yusuke Suzuki (PB 1:20:06), eighth in the 20km at the 2011 World Championships, and Takayuki Tanji, ninth in the 50km in Daegu. The International field also features Russian Petr Trofimov (PB 1:19:02) and Trond Nymark from Norway, better known as a 50km specialist with a World silver medal in 2009 and a second place at the 2006 World Cup over the longer distance as best results in his career.

Jean Jacques Nkouloukidi, an Italian walker who hails from a family of Congolese origin but lives in Rome, is the best Italian walker in the field. Nkouloukidi finished 16th in the last World Championships 50km with his PB of 3:52:16. He will fight for the national title against Federico Tondonati, 2007 World Youth bronze medallist Vito Di Bari, Riccardo Macchia and Mirko Dolci, two walkers coached by Alessandro Gandellini, who won the Coppa di Sesto in 2004.

Women’s race -

The fastest woman in the field is Russian Tatyana Sibileva who finished second in the 2008 World Cup on home soil in Cheboksary, 11th at the 2008 Olympic Games and ninth at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka. This year Sibileva clocked a best time of 1:26:59 in Sochi and won the Memorial Albisetti in 1:28:03.

Sibileva will take on her compatriot Tatyana Korotkova (PB 1:27:35 set in 2004 and 1:28:38 in 2011), Olive Loughnane from Ireland, the World silver medallist in 2009 with 1:28:58 and Australian Claire Tallent (the wife of Jared Tallent), who won the Australian and Oceania Championships in Hobart, finished second in Chihuahua and fifth in Taicang in this year’s World Challenge.

Four-time Italian 20km champion Sibilla Di Vincenzo, who took part in the European Championships in Barcelona, and Federica Ferraro, seventh at the 2006 World Junior Championships in Bejing, will fight for the Italian 20 km title.

Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF