Previews01 Mar 2022

Preview: U20 men's 10km – World Race Walking Team Championships Muscat 22


Heristone Wanyonyi in the 10,000m race walk at the World Athletics U20 Championships Nairobi 21 (© Roger Sedres)

Just three athletes in the U20 men’s 10km field for the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships Muscat 22 on 4-5 March have broken 40 minutes on the roads, and all three of them are from China.

Kong Xianglong, Wang Hongren and Zeng Yu will aim to maintain their nation’s strong run of form in this event. Since the U20 races were introduced in 2004, Chinese athletes have won four of the eight gold medals awarded in the U20 men’s race, including the past three editions.

Kong has the fastest 10km road PB of the field at 39:42. He also beat Wang and Zeng on two occasions last year: first in Huangshan in March, then in Taicang in May. But at the National Games later in the year, Yu finished 41 seconds ahead of Kong.

All three of the Chinese entrants will be making their season debut in Muscat, but they can still be expected to feature in the lead pack.

While China has been a race walking super power for quite some time, two athletes from countries with less of a strong race walking tradition will also be in contention in Muscat.

Heristone Wanyonyi was one of the host nation’s success stories at the World Athletics U20 Championships Nairobi 21. The Kenyan race walker was victorious in the 10,000m race walk on the track, winning by seven seconds from India’s Amit Khatri. It wasn’t a weak field either, as they finished comfortably ahead of Spain’s Paul McGrath, who earlier in the year had won the European U20 title.

Wanyonyi and Khatri will renew their rivalry in Muscat. Their times in Nairobi (42:10.84 and 42:17.94) would have been hampered by the altitude, so it will be interesting to see how much quicker they go on the roads at sea level. Khatri already has one of the fastest PBs of the field with his 40:28 clocking from two years ago.

Guatemala’s Brian Matias, one of the youngest in the field, will head to Muscat full of confidence. In late February the 16-year-old won the U18 title at the Central American Race Walking Championships in San Salvador. His winning time (43:04) was faster than the winning time in the U20 race. Earlier in the year, he clocked a PB of 41:18, putting him third on the North American U18 all-time list.

Italy, as you would expect for a nation that boasts the men’s and women’s Olympic 20km champions, fields a strong trio in the form of Nicola Lomuscio, Diego Giampaolo and Pietro Pio Notaristefano. Lomusco has the fastest 10km PB of the three Italians (41:40), while Notaristefano has the leading indoor 5000m performance by any U20 athlete in the world this year.

Turkey’s Mazlum Demir, who finished fourth at last year’s European U20 Championships and sixth at the World U20 Championships, should also be among the contenders.

Jon Mulkeen for World Athletics