Feature23 Jul 2014

Come rain or shine, Drahotova's fine after world record walk


Anezka Drahotova in the 10,000m race walk at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships in Eugene (© Getty Images)

Anezka Drahotova couldn’t hide her joy following her world junior record* in the 10,000m race walk, the first of the IAAF World Junior Championships, Oregon 2014, but is already setting bigger goals at the senior level.

“It is a very special feeling. I expected the world record. Before going to bed, I thought it would a dream to break it here, but first I wanted to win and then go for the world record. I was really motivated for this race,” a smiling Drahotova told reporters following her 42:47.25 performance at Hayfield Field on the second day in Eugene.

She credited her twin sister, Eliska, for a hand in the world record. “I appreciate having her by my side.” Eliska, third at the 2013 European Junior Championships, didn’t make it to the finish line on this occasion as she was disqualified.

In addition to 36 rivals on the start line, the versatile athlete had to battle steady rain during the time she was on the track, but neither her opponents nor the elements proved to be much of an obstacle.

“I am used to this weather at home and the mountains of Melago, Italy, where she trains during part of the year. If you want to go for the world record, you don’t mind the weather,” she joked.

As she considers how to savour the sensation of her world junior record – her continental gold medal in the Italian town of Rieti last summer was celebrated with her sister and a few other members of her family with a quiet pizza by the river front – she is also setting her sights on the European Championships in Zurich and then the World Road Cycling Championships in September.

On her bike

The 18-year old is also an accomplished road cyclist and mountain runner.

“I saw the (elite) ladies in Taicang (IAAF Race Walking World Cup in May). It was an impressive. I am motivated for Zurich and I will be the best I possibly can,” she added, which could translate into another national record, and maybe even a medal in Zurich, after setting the Czech mark over the senior distance of 20km with 1:28:13 earlier this year.

She is used to competing with the world’s best women and Zurich will not overawe her.

At the IAAF World Championships in Moscow she finished seventh in the 20km race walk after leading until past the halfway point.

On her bike n Spain, where she will actually be joined fellow countrywoman and three-time Olympic speed skating champion Martina Sablikova, she plans to enter both the time trial and the road race.

“I believe cycling helps me a lot (for race walking). I race for about three hours on the bike. Sometimes you go fast, some other times you go slowly. You are exhausted after the race. Walking is only 40-plus minutes as a junior. I have the same coach for both sports. My coach used to be a cyclist. I also like cycling because it is fun,” she explained.

“I may do more cycling next year and then focus more on the walks for the 2016 Olympic Games,” she stated. 

In Eugene, Drahotova became only the third Czech athlete – all women – and the first one in 10 years to win a world junior title.

Hopefully her success will propel the generation behind her to honours.

“We have athletes 1-2 years younger than me with a great potential," said Drahotova. "It is a great motivation for all the young athletes competing here and our sport in general."

Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF

*subject to the usual ratification procedures