Athletics Australia has announced a strong team of 17 walkers for the IAAF World Race Walking Cup in Naumburg on May 1/2.
The 20km Men’s team which now represents Australia’s strongest discipline on the entire Track and Field programme is led by Commonwealth Games medallists Nathan Deakes and Luke Adams both of who have taken top 5 finishes in each of the last two World Championships.
However, both athletes have suffered their fair share of injuries over the winter months but having spent the past month at altitude in Tolouca with new Australian Institute of Sport Coach John Fitzgerald, the indications are they will both be in top form in Naumburg, not altogether that far from where their former coach Ron Weigel was born!
Deakes, who joined the exclusive sub 3.40 club over 50km in December, is now coached by former International Brent Vallence, who competed in the 1995 and 1997 editions and is very hopeful of a podium finish after missing the last edition through injury.
"I missed Torino in 2002 through a hip injury and saw the rest of my team mates take 4th place in the 50km without me so, as a team we're very determined to make amends this year," said the double Commonwealth Games Champion.
For Adams, who surprised everyone else but himself last season with a 1:19:35 for 5th place in Paris, despite entering the Championships on a B standard of 1:22:50, Naumburg represents a chance to kick start the season into top gear after suffering the pain of a torn hamstring in the first 2km of the Australian Championships in February. Under Australia’s strict Olympic selection Policy, Adams battled bravely on to the finish and has since put in some excellent training in the Mexican hills despite missing the Tiguana Grand Prix Challenge.
"The hamstring injury certainly knocked my plans around a bit but I'm back on the road now and looking forward to a solid effort in Naumburg."
Jane Saville, who is currently lying in third place in the IAAF Race Walking Challenge leads the women’s team which also contains her sister Natalie who set an high class PB of 1:34:27 in Rio Maior at the weekend.
The elder sister, who spends her summer seasons in Spain with her husband, professional cyclist Matt White, said it would be a dream come through to see her younger sister join her in Athens and she feels it is very possible for her to take the necessary 87 seconds off her time to make the standard.
Interestingly, the Savilles are not the only family combination with Athens dreams as Sylvia Korzeniowska, the sister of triple Olympic Champion Robert Korzeniowski, recently qualified for the Polish team and the Irish team contains the Loughnane sisters, one of whom (Olive) has already qualified for Athens and the other (Ann) took silver at last years World Youth Championships 5000m walk.
Throw in the Trautmann brothers (Mike & Denis) on the German team, and Naumburg promises to be a real family affair!