Claudia Stef (ROM) leading the pack in Tlalnepantla de Baz (Joel Morales Bravo) © Copyright
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Fernández and Stef secure 2006 IAAF Race Walking Challenge titles

MonteCarloThe three Race Walksmen’s and women’s 20km and men’s 50km - which were part of the IAAF World Race Walking Cup which took place this weekend in La Coruña, Spain, 13 – 14 May, brought to a close the IAAF World Race Walking Challenge 2006.

Overall victories were taken by Francisco Javier Fernández of Spain (28pts) and Romania’s Claudia Stef (28pts), respectively in the men’s and women’s divisions, each netting US$30,000.

Final positions were based on the best total of points achieved by an athlete in any three of the Challenge competitions, with 10 points scored for a win, nine for second, eight for third, and so on, down to 10th position.
Prize money is awarded to the Top-8 men and women with US$20,000 for second, US$15,000 for third, US$10,000 - 4th; US$8000 - 5th; US$7000 - 6th; US$6000 - 7th; US$5000 - 8th.

Stef was one of very few athletes to compete at more than three meetings, and despite a disappointing 11th place finish in La Coruña, which of course gained her no points, her time was her fastest of the year (1:29:46). In any case she had virtually already secured the overall win even before setting foot in Spain this weekend, thanks to a win in Mexico and second places finishes in Portugal and Italy.

Ryta Turava (BLR), who had been the 2005 Challenge winner, did not finish in the opening leg in Mexico but her victories both in Italy and this weekend in Spain were by far enough to put her in a secure second place overall.

Jane Saville (AUS) made a late move into third, nipping past Germany’s Melanie Seeger – in second place before this weekend - and China’s Dan He (in joint 4th) by one point (18 to 17) to take third place.

In the men’s category, Francisco Javier Fernández of Spain, who last year had a perfect score of 30pts from three wins - Rio Maior, Sesto S. Giovanni and La Coruna – and came second at the World Championships, retained his Overall Challenge title, on this occasion with 28pts. In 2006, the Robert Korzeniowski coached athlete won in Portugal, came third in China, and took the overall title in dramatic style this weekend in La Coruña.

However, it could not have been closer because another pupil of Korzeniowski, Russian Ilya Markov, also finished the series with 28pts but lost the overall victory by virtue of having one race win to the Spaniard’s two. Markov for the record was second in Portugal and China, and won in Italy. He was not selected for the Russian team and so did not race in La Coruña.

In third came Tunisia’s was Hatem Ghoula (20pts).

Click here for final standings