Beatriz Pascual heads Ana Cabecinha and Claudia Steff (© organisers)
Lisbon, PortugalThere were great races in Rio Maior today, despite the weather conditions which brought periods of hard rain and strong wind. At the finish, Slovakian Matej Toth and Spaniard Beatriz Pascual respectively took the men’s and women’s 20km titles at the 21st edition of the Grande Prémio Internacional de Rio Maior em Marcha Atlética, which is part of the annual IAAF Race Walking Challenge.
Portugal's best women’s race walkers came to battle it out for World Race Walking Cup and Olympic team selection but Spain's Beatriz Pascual, second last year in Rio Maior was better than them all. The Portuguese champion, Ana Cabecinha, also showed good shape and was with Pascual throughout the race, but the visitor prevailed at the finish in 1:31:03, five seconds ahead of her rival.
Following them next over the line came Inês Henriques, the winner of this year’s Race Walking Challenge race in Chihuahua, who took third (1:31:32) after a strong finish.
Romanian Claudia Steff was also in the leading group until the last laps but she couldn’t keep the pace of the leading women, finishing her race with a season's best (1:31:46). There was a great performance by the Brazilian Erica de Sena (1.31.53), a new national record, who finished ahead of Susana Feitor, the most famous Portuguese race walker, who was herself in front of another Olympic team candidate Vera Santos.
Despite the weather, eight athletes achieved personal records.
“This was a great victory, with excellent competitors. I’m really glad, I was 2nd in 2011 and now I have won,” said Beatriz Pascual.
Spain's Júlia Tacaks, Lithuanian Sonata Milusauskaite and Ireland’s Olive Loughnane did not finish.
MEN - Matej Toth was stronger
The men’s title only was decided in the last lap when Matej Toth (winner of this year’s 20km race in Dudince) took the lead to win in 1:20:25 having escaped from the company of Mexican Eder Sanchez (1:20:49), who had won in Chihuahua. Overall it was a great day for Mexico who brought in five of the top-10 finishers.
Mexican Isaac Palma came to Rio Maior with a 1:23:18 as his personal best, and finished in the third place, with an improvement of two minutes, in 1:21:14.
Ireland’s Robert Heffernan prevailed over another Horacio Nava for fourth.
Six athletes set personal bests even though the wind conditions didn’t help the walkers to great performances.
António Manuel Fernandes for the IAAF
1. Beatriz Pascual (ESP) 1:31:03
2. Ana Cabecinha (POR) 1:31:08
3. Inês Henriques (POR) 1:31:32
4. Cláudia Steff (ROM) 1:31:46 SB
5. Erica R. de Sena (BRA) 1:31:53 PB
6. Sabine Krantz (GER) 1:32:25 SB
7. Susana Feitor (POR) 1:32:36 SB
8. Vera Santos (POR) 1:33:45
1. Matej Toth (SVK) 1:20:25 SB
2. Eder Sanchez (MEX) 1:20:49 SB
3. Isaac Palma (MEX) 1:21:14 PB
4. Robert Heffernan (IRL) 1:21:28
5. Horacio Nava (MEX) 1:22:04 PB
6. Ever Palma (MEX) 1:22:15 SB
7. Recep Celik (TUR) 1:23:45
8. Francisco Arcilla (ESP) 1:24:30 SB