Eider Arevalo wins the 20km race walk at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Eider Arévalo: I love race walking because...

World 20km race walk champion Eider Arévalo from Colombia shares his passion for the discipline and why he does it.

 

“I started race walking because I saw some friends try the sport and I immediately liked the dedication needed to excel. I also enjoyed the technical elements to race walking and the time needed to master the event. It was also something different, a sport that demands a lot from you and squeezes every last drop of energy when competing. 

“As soon as I first started race walking, I loved the joy that race walking brought me and the passion for the event.

“I enjoyed a big breakthrough as a 17-year-old at the 2010 World Cup in Chihuahua in Mexico. I did not have a lot of experience but I managed to win the U20 race in a national junior record of 42:13. Winning that race opened up the possibility that I could achieve so much more in the sport both in U20 competition and at a senior level, and in 2012 I qualified, aged just 19, for the 20km race walk at the London 2012 Olympics (he finished 20th).

“Over time I drew a lot of inspiration from Luis Fernando López (the 2011 World 20km Race Walk champion from Colombia), who I started training with in 2009. I always saw him as an example to follow and I have grown up a lot thanks to his advice. Jefferson Pérez (the 1996 Olympic and three-time World 20km Race Walk gold medallist), who has also been a positive influence since I was small. From the age of 12 I was compared with Jefferson in terms of my style. He always said I was not like him, that I was my own athlete – and personally I think I do not deserve to be compared with him.

 

Eider Arevalo wins the 20km race walk at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 (Getty Images)Eider Arevalo wins the 20km race walk at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 (Getty Images) © Copyright

 

“I love to race walk because it is one of the most demanding tests in athletics – which requires supreme physical strength and mental strength. I consider myself very strong, particularly mentally.

“I try to enjoy every kilometre in training and I also love to be able to achieve each goal I set out to pursue.

“Race walking has also allowed me to make new friends throughout the world and I also find there is a great pride in succeeding for my country. But I think I feel at my happiest, when I put together a very strong training session. This can often draw tears of joy – and, at that moment, I know all the hard work and sacrifices are worth it.

Steve Landells for the IAAF