The 2010 IAAF Race Walking Challenge Final in Beijing turned out to be a show run by the Chinese hosts as presumed. Three Chinese men and two women finished in top four of the 10km races on Saturday (18) morning on fast courses.
On the men’s side it was a Chinese 1-2-3 in the total standings due to the fact that Italian Giorgio Rubino, who finished third today, had not competed in three IAAF Race Walking Challenge competitions before Beijing and was not in contention for the prize money. On the women’s side Russian Tatyana Sibileva won the final race in Beijing, but she too missed out on the prize money for the same reason.
The men’s 10km race was the fastest ever at this level. Winning time today for Zhen Wang was 37:44, the equal second fastest all-time. Norwegian Erik Tysse has the fastest time, 37:33 in Hildesheim 2006 and also walked 37:44 last year. But the depth in those races was different. Tysse was the only athlete to dip under 38 minutes before today. Two Chinese athletes Zhen Wang and Zhu Yafei went under 38 min and Rubino and Chinese favourite Wang Hao both were timed in 38 minutes flat.
Fast from the gun as all-time 10Km lists rewritten – Men’s race
In the men’s race the pace was fast from the start and top eight broke early. Most of the walkers were together until 3km mark with the pace near four minutes per kilometer, but the leaders accelerated fast after that with Zhen Wang, Chu Yafei and Australian Jared Tallent leading in 15:31 after 4km into the race. The following kilometres were fast as well, at around 3:45 per km. The top nine athletes were still within two seconds of each other after 6km, but during the next kilometre only five athletes remained in the battle for the win. With Tallent now almost 10 seconds back, Zhen Wang and Chu continued in the lead accompanied by Rubino, Colombian Luis Lopez and Korean Kim Hyun-Sub. Surprisingly home favourite, Berlin 20km silver medallist Wang Hao had also been dropped five seconds back in sixth place at this stage.
Zhen Wang and Chu clocked 3:40 for the next km to reach the 8km mark in 30:25 now as a duo in the lead with the chasing group already some 10 seconds back. Just 17-year-old Wang then made his move grabbing a clear lead before 9km. The youngster held on to win in a super fast 37:44 to move to second place in the world all-time list. Zhen Wang's result is of course the World record* as well, crushing Russian Stanislav Yemelyanov’s old mark of 38:28 by 44 seconds, and an Asian best. The previous Asian record holder Chu Yafei, 22, became only the third man to break 38 minutes clocking 37:57 for second place. The previous Area record, 38:40, was set this season in Kraków where he won the IAAF Race Walking Challenge.
Italian Giorgio Rubino just held on to the third place before Wang Hao, who almost caught him in the finish line. Rubino and Wang both set personal bests of 38:00. Wang took the third place in the overall competition as Rubino had not completed three competitions before this one.
Luis Lopez was fifth in 38:10 and Kim Hyun-Sub sixth clocking 38:13. Another young Chinese, 18-year-old Chen Ding, was seventh 38:23 also surpassing the previous World junior record and Tallent finished eighth in 38:29. The first 15 athletes all set personal bests.
Sibileva wins the battle, Liu Hong wins the war
In the women’s race only 13 athletes started. Maybe because of that the race at the front quickly narrowed to five athletes. Russian Tatyana Sibileva, not part of the race for the prize money, was in the lead from the beginning leaving others behind quickly after the first kilometre had been completed. Sibileva already lead by 10 seconds after 3km and gained ground on the others every kilometre. But the main competition for the 2010 IAAF Race Walking Challenge was behind the Russian and there three athletes were together after 4 kilometres. Chinese pre-race favourites Liu Hong and Li Yanfei had seasoned German Melanie Seeger with them, the trio reaching 4km in 17:04, 17 seconds behind Sibileva.
After 5km mark Liu Hong, medallist at both the Beijing Olympics and Berlin World Championships, tried to make a move, but her 5-second gap on the other two had vanished before 7km. With Sibileva far ahead, the final decision for the overall win was made between 8-9km when Liu Hong finally succeeded in leaving Seeger and Li behind. Sibileva won in 41:53, a personal best and fastest time in the world this year with Liu clocking 42:30, Seeger 42:36 for third and Li 42:41 for fourth, all personal bests.
The next three places went to Portuguese walkers with Ines Henriques (43:09), Ana Cabecinha (43:17) and Susana Feitor (43:41) finishing in places 5-7.
Mirko Jalava for the IAAF