Eiki Takahashi produced the fastest time in the world for three years to win a high-quality race at the Japanese 20km Race Walking Championships in Kobe on Sunday (18).
The former national record-holder won in 1:17:26 to move to eighth on the world all-time list. In a domestic race of unprecedented depth, the three medallists all finished within 1:18:00, the first time in history one country has achieved such a feat in a single race.
Takahashi was joined in the lead group by 2013 world U18 champion Toshikazu Yamanishi, 2014 world U20 champion Daisuke Matsunaga and two-time Olympian Isamu Fujisawa as they covered the first five kilometres in 19:36, 21 seconds ahead of the chase pack. The quartet continued to increase their pace and reached the half-way point in 39:00 with a 46-second lead.
Matsunaga was the first of the quartet to fade, leaving the remaining trio to pass through 15 kilometres in 58:22. Takahashi, Yamanishi and Matsunaga all increased their pace during the final quarter of the race, but the latter pair couldn’t match Takahashi’s finishing speed.
He crossed the line in 1:17:26 to take 37 seconds off the PB he set in 2015, which was then a Japanese record. Yamanishi finished second in 1:17:41 with Matsunaga taking third place in 1:17:46, the pair moving to 13th and 15th respectively on the world all-time list.
Koki Ikeda overtook a tiring Fujisawa to take fourth place in 1:19:13, two seconds ahead of Fujisawa. Fumitaka Oikawa and Hirroki Arai were close behind in 1:19:17 and 1:19:19 respectively. Masatora Kawano was the eighth and final finisher inside 1:20, clocking 1:19:52.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF