Tatyana Mineyeva and Vera Sokolova racing in the 10km in Saransk (Alla Glushchenko) © Copyright

Russian Affair in Chihuahua? - WOMEN'S RACES PREVIEW

Following yesterday's preview, we now take a closer look at the women's 20km and women's junior 10km races expected in Chihuahua.

Women 20km

Her husband has been left at home – but Anisa Kirdyapkina could bring Sergey more than a souvenir sombrero from Chihuahua.

The Russian woman posted a super-fast 85:11 for a PB at Sochi in the Russian Winter Championships three months ago, and could be about to push the other half’s two IAAF World Championship golds along the family mantelpiece to make way for her first major honour.

The cautionary note is Kirdyapkina’s sub 86-minute clockings were all logged at either Sochi or Adler over the last two years where records go unratified – and her next best time in a major competition brought her fourth in Berlin last August, but nearly five minutes outside her PB.

That leaves open the possibility for both Vera Sokolova and Tatyana Mineeva to make the grade at senior level after rampant success as juniors.

Sokolova won the first two editions of the World Cup 10km in 2004 and 2006 – and Mineeva won the IAAF World Junior Championships in 2008 – but the young Russians will be under serious threat from the Portuguese walkers and newcomers on the block, Japan.

Vera Santos broke the tape at the Rio Maior leg of the IAAF Walks Challenge race in April, and the 29-year-old is a veteran of successive top 10 finishes at all the majors – including a bronze two years ago at the last World Cup.

The Portuguese has the advantage of a strong team around her, but Masumi Fuchise is also a regular collector of sub 90:00-minute times, while Japanese team-mates Kumi Otoshi and Mayumi Kawasaki are not far behind.

China’s team all boast world-class times, and in Hong Liu have their best chance of a senior win since 1999.

The walker, who celebrates her 23rd birthday three days before the gun goes in Chihuahua, stuck to the task when she collected a bronze at the IAAF World Championships last August.

Liu is one of the few from her country who turns out top performances away from the comfort of domestic competition, although Maria Vasco has walked all over the world to record superlative times in her 12-year affair with the distance.

The Spaniard has a strong team around her like Portugal does over the border, but spare a thought for the one Briton who toes the line for her country in Chihuahua.

Johanna Jackson shoulders GB expectations in a competition where the Union flag used to fly frequently at medal ceremonies in the early days of what was then called the Lugano Cup.

The Yorkshire girl has made impressive progress over the last two years since the last Cup, and could be her country’s first top-12 finisher since Lisa Langford achieved the feat 23 years ago in New York.
Junior women 10km

The other 35 walkers in the junior women’s 10km are living in dreamland if they think they will disturb Russian dominance of the event.

Not since the race’s inception in 2004 has anyone but those wearing a red vest, although it’s also been white, collected the top two individual medals as well as all three team medals on offer.

Two years ago in Cheboksary, Russia made a clean sweep of the entire table, with the race, as one understands the word, lasting about 10 seconds.

That’s how long it took for the three Russians to break clear of the rest at the gun and disappear into the horizon.

A brand new team, spearheads the charge for title number four, with Nina Okhotnikova who was third in the European Championships last summer in Serbia, the best known of the trio.

The slowest Russian is Svetlana Vasilyeva with a PB from the Russian Winter Championships of 44:25 – but even that is more than a minute in front of next-best Anotella Palmisano, making a second appearance in Italy’s colours.

After that, there is a huge clutch of walkers in the 48-50 minute bracket that should make the minor placings something of a fight, with a team bronze up for grabs just about anywhere provided the judges aren’t overworked.