The 2013-2016 IAAF Strategic Plan has six Core Values: universality, leadership, unity, excellence, integrity and solidarity, and a Vision Statement: “To lead, govern and develop the sport of athletics in all its forms worldwide, uniting the Athletics Family in a spirit of excellence, integrity and solidarity.”
The IAAF Race Walking Challenge in Taicang, China concluded with a bang on Sunday (24) morning. As predicted, the home walkers dominated and it was indeed a China versus Korea match with these two countries occupying the first 10 places in the final result sheet.
In this competition it was clear from the start that there wouldn’t be many competitors left at the top in the final kilometres. With the pace predicting a finishing time under 3:40, three Chinese walkers left the main group before the 20km mark. 2010 Asian Games winner, 26-year-old Si Tianfeng, 23-year-old Xu Faguang and 24-year-old Li Jianbo. By the 40km Si and Li were the duo fighting for the win, but soon after that Si made his final move with Li now fading quickly.
In the end Si Tianfeng emerged as a clear winner in a world leading 3:38:48, almost a minute faster than Slovak Republic’s Matej Tóth’s earlier mark 3:39:46 from Dudince. Frenchman Yohann Diniz has already set a World record 3:35:27.20 for the 50,000m track walk, but in race walking road and track are separated and therefore Si’s mark is the world leader for the 50km road walk. Si cut more than four minutes off his previous personal best 3:42:55 set in 2005 almost six years ago.
Xu Faguang overtook Li Jianbo for second place finishing in a personal best 3:42:20. Xu, who was 11th in Berlin at the World Championships in 2009, also made a big improvement to this earlier best of 3:47:54 which he walked in Beijing last September. Li was third in 3:43.38, a season’s best just missing his PB mark 3:43:02, which set years ago too, in April 2006 at the Asian Championships in Wajima.
China has a real shot at the medals in this summer World Championships in Daegu. The winners of both men’s and women’s 20km races on Friday are very close to the world top and the same has to be said of Si Tianfeng. In Daegu Si will be competing for the first time in World Championships, he has previously taken part to the 2008 Olympics and 2006 and 2010 World Cups. I the latter he finished in fourth place.
Far behind the top three Chinese 28-year-old Korean Park Chil-Sung set a national record 3:50:11 for fourth place. Previous national record holder, countryman Lim Jung-Hyun was fifth in 3:53:05 also beating his earlier record and 23-year-old Chinese Geng Zhiyao set a personal best 3:53:26 for the sixth place. Two Koreans followed closely for seventh and eighth places respectively with Byun Young-Jun clocking 3:53:49 in his début and 31-year-old Kim Dong-Young 3:53:55, just three seconds short of his personal best set at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou last November.
Mirko Jalava for the IAAF
Leading results (50Km): 1. SI Tianfeng, CHN 3:38:48 2. XU Faguang, CHN 3:42:20 3. LI Jianbo, CHN 3:43:38 4. Chilsung PARK, KOR 3:50:11 NR 5. Yunghyun YIM, KOR 3:53:05 6. GENG Zhiyao, CHN 3:53:26 7. Youngjun BYUN, KOR 3:53:49 8. Dongyoung KIM, KOR 3:53:55 9. NIU Wenbin, CHN 3:54:19 10. Sehan OH, KOR 3:54:20 11. Emerson Hernandez, ESA 3:56:09 12. WU Qianlong, CHN 4:05:25 13. LI Gaobo, CHN 4:05:25 14. Quenting Rew, NZL 4:06:57 15. LIU Rusi, CHN 4:09:50