A look ahead to Sunday’s European Race Walking Cup action in Murcia, Spain
Miguel Lopez will be looking to claim victory on home soil while Tom Bosworth leads the British challenge at the European Race Walking Cup in Murcia in Spain on Sunday (May 17), writes Ian Richards.
British 10km record-holder Bosworth will be competing in the 20km walk. He set his British record over 10km in March with a time of 39:36 at Coventry and was just outside of his personal best over 20km in Lugano when finishing fourth in 82:33. With the British Athletics qualifying time for both Beijing and Rio already under his belt, Bosworth’s target is to better his 12th place in last summer’s European Championships in Zurich, with an eye on Ian McCombie’s long-standing British record of 82:03 set in the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988.
The men’s 20km will see a head-to-head between European champion Lopez racing in his home city and triple European 50km champion and world record-holder Yohann Diniz of France, who briefly held the world 20km record for six days in March when he clocked 77:02 in the French Championships in Arles.
Also likely to be in the mix is the European silver medallist at 50km and former IAAF World Race Walking Cup champion, Matek Toth of Slovakia, who set a national record when winning the Dudince 50km in March.
Commonwealth champion Jo Atkinson competes in the women’s 20km. She will be looking to target the 93:00 qualifying time for Beijing and return towards the sort of form that saw her finish 12th in this event in 2011. She currently leads the British rankings with her 94:51 set in Lugano in March.
The race will see a rematch of the podium finishers in Zurich, with Elmira Alembekova of Russia, Lyudmila Olyanovska of Ukraine and Anezka Drahotova of Czech Repiblic all aiming for gold, with Italian record-holder Eleonora Giorgi and a strong Spanish quartet led by Beatriz Pascual also set to be in the mix.
Emma Achurch goes into the junior women’s 10km in fine form, having clocked a personal best of 47:49 when finishing second in Lugano in March. She is ranked eighth out of the entrants and with a European junior qualifying standard already in the bag can target a top eight finish. The Russians, as ever, will start as the favourites in this event, but the hosts with Lidia Sánchez-Puebla could challenge them.
The junior men’s 10km sees a strong trio of Callum Wilkinson, Cameron Corbishley and Guy Thomas representing Great Britain. Only Corbishley has completed at this level before when finishing 41st in 2011. They all go into the race on the back of personal best performances and will look to combine to beat Great Britain’s best ever team placing of 12th in 2000 and 2013. Spaniard Diego García with 40:10 is the fastest in the field and will start as favourite, but is likely to face strong competition from the Russians.
The men’s 50km is the most wide open event of the day. The Russian challenge is led by Ivan Noskov and Mikhail Ryzhov and they will be challenged by Poland’s Grzegorz Sudoł and the evergreen 45-year-old Spaniard Jesús Ángel García who was world champion as long ago as 1993 and incredibly won the very first European Cup 50km in 1996 as well as in 2000 and 2001.
The action is set to be streamed live via the official website on Sunday here. The first event is the men’s 50km at 7am UK time.