Elena Lashmanova stops the clock in Rio Maior to win the women's 20km race walk (© Rui Correia/Samuel Valerio)
Olympic champion Elena Lashmanova’s win in Rio Maior was not as decisive as expected, but she nevertheless extended her career winning streak today (6) at the Rio Maior Race Walking Grand Prix, part of the IAAF Race Walking Challenge.
The lead athletes were grouped together at the 10km half-way mark, but it was then that World record-holder Lashmanova increased her pace. She crossed the line in 1:28:19, the fourth best time of the year and her fourth consecutive victory in just her fifth ever race over the distance.
It continues Lashmanova’s splendid start to the season, following her 1:25:49 clocking in February in Sochi, and the 20-year-old Russian was very pleased with her performance in Rio Maior.
Guatemala’s Mirna Ortiz was also very happy with her result. The 2011 Pan American silver medallist broke her own North and Central American record by 22 seconds with a time of 1:28:32 to finish in second place.
Competing on home soil, the Portuguese race walkers performed well with national champion Ana Cabecinha prevailing in third place in a season’s best of 1:29:21, one place ahead of team-mate Inês Henriques, winner in Chihuahua in February, who also dipped inside 90 minutes (1:29:56).
Last year’s winner, Beatriz Pascual of Spain, was only sixth after Mexico’s Monica Equihua set a PB of 1:31:09 to finish 40 seconds in front. The sunny but windy conditions may have slightly affected the results, but generally the athletes where pleased with their performances.
Local hero Vieira pleases home crowd
For the residents of Rio Maior who turned out to watch the men’s race, hopes were high for local race walkers João and Sérgio Vieira, twin brothers. Portuguese record-holder João Vieira headed the lead group from Guatemala’s Erick Barrondo, the 2012 Olympic silver medallist and winner over 50km in Dudince last month.
But Barrondo, the pre-race favourite, was disqualified before the 14km point when he was trying to stay near to João Vieira. The Portuguese champion finished in a season’s best of 1:21:08, followed by Sérgio Vieira in 1:21:53 – his best result since 2008 and the third-fastest performance of his career.
It was the first time in 10 years that two Portuguese men made it on to the podium, with João Vieira getting his second victory in this event. His first came in 1997 when the distance was 10km.
In third place Mexico’s Diego Flores took more than a minute off his personal best with 1:21:56, two minutes ahead of 2011 Pan American Games bronze medallist Jaime Quiyuch of Guatemala.
António Manuel Fernandes for the IAAF
Men (20km race walk)
1 João Vieira (POR) 1:21:08
2 Sérgio Vieira (POR) 1:21:53
3 Diego Flores (MEX) 1:21:56
4 Jaime Quiyuch (GUA) 1:23:58
5 Andrés Chocho (ECU) 1:24:33
6 Francisco Arcilla (ESP) 1:24:41
7 Pedro Isidro (POR) 1:25:26
8 Luís A. Amezcua (ESP) 1:25:49
Women (20km race walk)
1 Elena Lashmanova (RUS) 1:28:19
2 Mirna Ortiz (GUA) 1:28:32
3 Ana Cabecinha (POR) 1:29:21
4 Inês Henriques (POR) 1:29:56
5 Monica Equihua (MEX) 1:31:09
6 Beatriz Pascual (ESP) 1:31:49
7 Ainhoa Pinedo (ESP) 1:32:31
8 Kristina Saltanovic (LTU) 1:33:47