Yang Jiayu wins in Huangshan (© Lu Lin)
Yang Jiayu chopped 49 seconds off the world record to win the 20km race walk in 1:23:49* at the Chinese Race Walking Championships in Huangshan on Saturday (20).
The 2017 world champion made a break in the first kilometre and passed through 5km in 20:55. She reached half way in 41:52 with a comfortable lead over world and Olympic champion Liu Hong and then gradually increased her pace in the second half.
After going through 15km in 1:02:44, she covered the final five kilometres in 21:09 to cross the line in 1:23:49, finishing 38 seconds ahead of Liu.
Liu's 1:24:27 runner-up clocking was also inside the previous world record of 1:24:38, set by Liu in La Coruna in 2015.
“My goal for the race was to break the world record,” Yang told Xinhua. “I walked in a very fast pace at the early stages. Then my coach told me to slow down a little bit and stay in a relatively comfortable pace. The last three kilometres was the most difficult part which was a challenge for my body.”
World silver medallist Qieyang Shenjie was third in a PB of 1:24:45, securing her spot on China’s Olympic team as the race served as a trial event for the Tokyo Games.
It’s the first 20km race in which more than one woman has finished inside 1:25:00. In a race of exceptional depth, 2015 world silver medallist Lu Xiuzhi finished fourth in 1:25:51 and world bronze medallist Yang Liujing was fifth in 1:25:59. The first 10 athletes finished inside the Olympic qualifying standard of 1:31:00.
On a landmark day for Chinese race walking, Asian Games champion Wang Kaihua won the men’s 20km event in a national record of 1:16:54, a performance that moves the 27-year-old to third on the world all-time list, just 18 seconds shy of the world record.
Olympic silver medallist Cai Zelin finished just ahead of Zhang Jun to take second place, both men recording 1:17:39 to move to equal third on the Chinese all-time list. 21-year-old Cui Lihong just missed out on a top-three spot but was rewarded with a big PB of 1:17:52 to become the eighth-fastest Chinese man in history. It’s just the second time in history in which four men have finished inside 1:18 in a 20km race.
*Subject to the usual ratification procedure
Barrondo triumphs in Dudince
Bernardo Uriel Barrondo produced a well-timed effort to win the men’s 50km race walk at the Dudinska 50 in the Slovakian town of Dudince on Saturday (20).
The Guatemalan held off the leading pace during the first half, allowing Mexico’s Isaac Palma to lead for a while before Britain’s Cameron Corbishley enjoyed a stint at the front. Barrondo and Lithuania’s Artur Mastianica then worked together to make up the gap that Corbishley had opened up, and the duo hit the front with seven laps to go.
Barrondo, younger brother of 2012 Olympic silver medallist Erick Barrondo, maintained his consistent pace to the end while Mastianica was unable to stick with him, allowing the Guatemalan to open up a gap in the final five kilometres.
Barrondo went on to win in 3:47:01 with Mastianica taking second place in 3:48:24. Luis Angel Sanchez, also from Guatemala, placed third in 3:48:56.
Mexican athletes dominated the 20km races with Andres Olivas Nunez leading a 1-2 finish in the men’s race and Valeria Ortuno Martinez leading a podium sweep in the women’s race.
After leading a group of eight men through half way in 40:37, Nunez increased the pace in the second half and had opened up a gap of 23 seconds by the time he reached 15km (1:00:16). He covered the final five kilometres in 19:38 to finish first in 1:19:54, smashing his previous best by almost three minutes.
Compatriot Noel Chama was second in a PB of 1:20:23, finishing one second ahead of 2017 world champion Eider Arevalo of Colombia. Further back, Olympic 50km champion Matej Toth was ninth in 1:22:14, his fastest 20km clocking since 2015.
Ilse Guerrero led for most of the women’s race, passing through half way well inside PB pace in 43:58. At the 15-kilometre point she was overtaken by fellow Mexican Valeria Ortuno, who soon built up a comfortable lead.
Ortuno went on to win in 1:29:11, smashing her PB by two-and-a-half minutes to become the second-fastest Mexican woman ever. Guerrero held on to take second place in a PB of 1:29:33, moving her to third on the Mexican all-time list.
Alegna Gonzalez completed the all-Mexican podium by taking third place in 1:30:08.