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Report24 Jul 2022

Relentless Stano wins first men's world 35km race walk title in Oregon


Italy's Massimo Stano wins the inaugural 35km race walk title in Oregon (© Getty Images)

Italy’s Olympic 20km race walk champion Massimo Stano won the first men’s 35km race walk to be held at the World Athletics Championships, clocking 2:23:14 to hold off Japan’s Masatora Kawano in Oregon on Sunday (24). Kawano collapsed over the line one second later for silver in an Asian record of 2:23:15.

The Italian was the first to help his stricken rival to his feet.

Sweden’s Perseus Karlstrom, who had won bronze in the opening day’s men’s 20km race walk behind the Japanese pair of Toshikazu Yamanishi and Koki Ikeda, earned a second in a personal best of 2:23:44.

Kawano’s compatriot Daisuke Matsunaga had gambled hugely in the first half of the race, establishing a lead of over a minute by the 13th kilometre, but by the 21st kilometre he was passed by the pack and eventually finished 26th, more than 10 minutes off the pace.

But it was a brave effort from the man who had started the race second in the 2022 top list, having finished runner-up to Kawano at the Japanese trials in April in 2:27:09.

Brian Pintado of Ecuador, finishing fourth, had the consolation of setting a South American record of 2:24:37, while China’s He Xianghong set an Asian record of 2:24:45 in fifth place and Evan Dunfee of Canada, who took bronze in the last ever Olympic men’s 50km race walk in Sapporo last summer, was sixth in a North American record of 2:25:02.

Karlstrom, who was soon celebrating with a giant blue and yellow Viking hat on his head, had been the man who had done most to catch the lone figure of Matsunaga, whose bold effort looked for a few kilometres as if it might even work.

The 27-year-old Japanese athlete, who finished seventh in the Rio 2016 men’s 20km race walk after winning the Asian title earlier in the year, was a man on a mission from the off, rocketing along the 1km looped course on Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard in downtown Eugene to create a significant lead of almost half a minute after the first kilometre, which he covered in 3:59, with the pack more than 25 seconds behind.

That lead grew steadily as the pack remained tight, but shortly after the 20km marker the balance of the race tipped and the chasing group became the leading group.

Gradually the pack of eight reduced, to the point that with 5km to go there were five contenders left - Stano, Kawano, Karlstrom, Pintado and He.

He was first to go, then Pintado. And as the front three moved through the 33km marker the field was reforming into a duo, with the Swede adrift.

Stano, impassive, inexorable, was an immoveable object. Kawano, desperate to emulate Yamanishi’s earlier victory, showed the pain involved on his face and was an utterly spent force as he crossed the line having managed a despairing final surge over the last 10 metres.

Unlike Karlstrom, Stano had elected to concentrate his energies on the longer race, which is now the official companion of the 20km event for both men and women at major championships.

Mike Rowbottom for World Athletics


🥇 Massimo Stano 🇮🇹 ITA 2:23:14 CR
🥈 Masatora Kawano 🇯🇵 JPN 2:23:15 AR
🥉 Perseus Karlstrom 🇸🇪 SWE 2:23:44 PB
  Full results