There’s only so much waiting anyone can take. For 10,000m race walk winner Callum Wilkinson, his limit is about 15 minutes.
That’s roughly how long the Briton waited in the middle of the lead pack before sweeping to the front and cranking up the pace with each lap.
The opening tempo was slow, with Turkey’s Salih Korkmaz taking the field through 1000m in 4:17.16 and 2000m in 8:40.38. Half a lap later, Germany’s Leo Kopp decided to take up the pace and he led through 3000m in 12:54.57.
The pace had increased, but it still wasn’t fast enough for Wilkinson’s liking.
Within the space of one lap, Wilkinson had taken pole position and stretched out the lead pack. Korkmaz was still near the front, so too was Noel Ali Chama of Mexico. But from 4000m onwards, reached in 17:02.91, Wilkinson did not relinquish his lead.
After another 4:08 kilometre to reach half way in 21:11.75, Wilkinson moved up another gear and began to churn out sub-four-minute splits for the remaining 1000m sections.
A 3:58.47 kilometre saw the lead pack reduce to nine. Manuel Bermudez, the silver medallist in the junior race at the IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships Rome 2016, began to drift behind the leaders as the Spaniard struggled with a minor ankle injury.
At 7000m, Ecuador’s Jhonatan Amores and Ethiopia’s Yohanis Algaw were still doggedly sticking to Wilkinson, but the Briton was showing no signs of stress. Wilkinson covered the penultimate 1000m section in 3:53.56 and just four men were left in contention.
As the pack went through the bell, Algaw was the first to drop off, leaving just Wilkinson, Amores and Korkmaz in the hunt for medals. But those positions remained the same throughout the last lap as Wilkinson stretched away to win in a national U20 record of 40:41.62, crossing the line in utter disbelief.
Not only was it the fastest time in the world this year by an U20 athlete, it also takes Wilkinson to second on the senior British all-time list for the distance.
“Every lap of the track made me more and more confident,” said Wilkinson after covering the second half in 19:29.87 and the final kilometre in 3:44.51. “I can’t believe I did it. I knew I could, but I can’t believe it. I’m just in shock. It’s everything I wanted this year. This is it.”
His gold medal is Britain’s first race walking title in a major international age-group competition. The last Briton to win a global race walking title was 1964 Olympic 20km champion Ken Matthews.
Amores finished second in a PB of 40:43.33, taking Ecuador’s first world U20 medal in this discipline since Jefferson Perez won gold in 1992. Korkmaz crossed the line in 40:45.53, while Algaw was fourth in an African U20 record of 40:55.96.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF