Race favourite Vera Sokolova did not disappoint, winning a crushing victory in the women’s 5000 metre Walk
Finland’s Mia Hovi had set off strongly at the start, building up a 15 metre lead after one lap of the track, but 1000 metres passed in 4:35.43 and Hovi’s lead was gradually being whittled away, as the following pack, led by Russia’s Sokolova, who came to Sherbrooke as the World-leading performer this year, gradually caught the young Finn, overtaking her as they passed the finish line for the third time.
1600 metres and Sokolova seemed firmly in control of the race, pushing forward assuredly, followed by Hovi , Nastassia Makatrova of Belarus and Noriko Nishide from Japan. Taking the leaders through 2 kilometres in 9:12.77, Sokolova accelerated and pulled away from the three followers, building up a lead of 40 metres at the halfway point.
Nishide too was breaking away now, with Hovi and Makatrova falling back.
Going through 3000 metres in 13:45.67, Sokolova had a 25 second lead over Nishide, with the Japanese passing at 14:10 and Hovi and Makatrova in 14:19.
But now the Japanese was weakening and the pack gradually reeled her in, led by Australian Susan Knapton who had now taken over the lead of the pursuit group.
Maintaining her lead, Sokolova passed the 4000 metre point in 18:21.43, streaking around the track with a nice smooth, even action eating up the metres.
Invincible, the 16-year-old Russian completed the race in 22:50.23. Behind her, the place trading left Ireland’s Ann Loughane to take the silver in 23:37.00, with Noriko Nishide’s efforts throughout the race paying off with bronze for Japan in 23:50.69.
Sokolova gained more applause from the crowd as she spoke in English to the stadium presenter: “I am very happy. I like Canada!”