Poděbrady hosted the European Race Walking Team Championships. The Swede Perseus Karlström and the Italian Antonella Palmisanová scored another triumph in this spa town in the twenty-kilometre race. 50 km was dominated by Spaniard Marc Tur, 35 km by Greek Antigoni Drisbioti. Host nation celebrated medals in junior women race.
Greek surprise Drisbioti over favourites at women's 35 km
The women's 35-kilometre race has long been directed by the experienced Italian Eleonora Giorgi. She took the lead right after the start and very soon built up a significant lead. After ten kilometres it had grown to almost a minute. The only Czech representative in the race Tereza Ďurdiaková was currently in fifth place and in the meantime 49:29 she had a twenty-second lead over the plan, which was to meet the entry standard for the World Championships, which will be hosted in Eugene, USA next year.
In the next ten kilometres, however, both the leading competitor and Czech hope began to struggle. Shortly before the 20km mark, Giorgi lost the lead when Greek Antigoni Drisbioti overtook her. Ďurdiaková also slowed down significantly and dropped to tenth place. At that moment, she already was behind the time needed for Eugene.
Drisbioti decided on her triumph between the 20th and 30th kilometres, when she gradually increased her lead at the front. On the other hand, Giorgi had to stop for two-minute penalty for three red cards, and in the meantime the Spaniard Maria Juárez and also Nadzheya Darazhuk from Belarus appeared in front of her. Nevertheless, experienced Italian managed to catch her second breath and returned the attack to her rivals in the final five kilometres.
Meanwhile, Antigoni Drisbioti calmly finished for her first big victory in personal best of 2:49:55. Eleonora Giorgii won silver with 2:51:05. Her compatriot Lidia Barcellaová won the bronze with a great finish (2:51:50 PB). Juárez and Darazhuk had to settle for fourth and fifth, although both in PBs. Tereza Ďurdiaková took ninth place with a time of 3:57:08.
Only three teams were classified, while Italians won (also 8th Curiazzi included) ahead of the Greeks and Belarusians.
Palmisano the queen as in 2017
The leading group of the women's twenty kilometres had ten competitors and did not miss any of the favourites. The national teams of Spain and Ukraine had a strong representation, three walkers of both countries were in the game for the highest places.
Winner of the 2017 Podebrady European Cup, Antonella Palmisano from Italy, tried for first major attack at the 13th kilometre mark. This resulted in a significant reduction of the leading field. Only a trio of Spanish rivals could accept Italian's pace, but they also had to fill in the gap in next kilometres. However, Palmisano tried to walk away for the second time during the 18th kilometre and the Spaniards could no longer respond to this attack. Raquel Gonzales dropped out first, Maria Pérez and Laura Garcia-Caro followed her later.
In the last two circuits, Palmisano increased her pace and her reward was not only the repetetion of a four-year-old triumph, but also a new course record of 1:27:42. She was four seconds faster than Eleonora Giorgi two years ago at the Podebrady Walking meeting. The silver went to Maria Pérez for 1:28:03 and Laura Garcia-Caro won bronze, the third precious metal at this competition in a row for 1:28:07.
The Spanish team clearly dominated the team ranking. Ukrainians just edged Italians (2 places in total).
Karlström defended from Alytus
At the men's 20 km, the Turkish record holder Salih Korkmaz opened the race very bravely. Soon, he developed an approximately twenty-second lead over a ten-member group of pursuers, which he held until the middle of the contest.
However, the defending champion of the title from two years ago, Perseus Karlström, did not like this very much, who, together with the Spaniard pair Alvar Martin and Diego Garcia, went on a successful chase. At the thirteenth kilometre, Korkmaz was overtaken and continued to fall. Two kilometres before the finish, only Karlström and Martin were in the fight for victory.
However, this condition lasted only a few hundred metres. Then the Swede engaged another gear and headed for the triumph, which he adorned with a quality time of 1:18:54. Karlström dominated this competition for the second time in a row and after a few months he could look forward to another primacy in Poděbrady. In the autumn, walking was the fastest in the Poděbrady meeting here. Also, the Swede has seven major wins in a row after today's race.
Alvaro Martin walked for the silver in personal best of 1:19:14. Bronze compatriot Diego Garcia (1:19:19) lost five seconds to him and repeated third place from Alytus (last edition of the championships as European Cup).
Miguel Angel Lopez underlined Spanish domination with fourth place, just 6 seconds off the individual. But he could celebrate team gold, clearly over of Italy. Germany won in close battle for bronze just one place in total over Ukraine, Turkey was only another two places behind.
Of the pair of Czech representatives, Vít Hlaváč did better, finishing 39th in 1:27:42. Lukáš Gdula finished as 43rd (1:30:57).
Strong finish of Tur at 50 km
Men's 50 km race looked like for a long time the sovereign ride of the German Karel Junghannss, who disengaged from his opponents right after the start and at the 30th kilometre he was a minute and a half ahead of the rest of the field. Gradually, however, his lead began to decline and at the 44-km mark the race had a new leading walker in the Spaniard Marc Tur.
Five kilometres before the line, the number of candidates for other medals significantly narrowed, while Fin Aleksi Ojala, German Nathaniel Seiler and Italian Andrea Agrusti were the candidates. On the contrary, Junghannss continued to fall.
Marc Tur eventually walked for the win in a new personal record of 3:47:40. In the fight for remaining podium places, the most successful was silver Aleksi Ojala (3:48:25). Andrea Augusto took bronze in another PB 3:49:52. All three medallists also broke the WA/IOC qualifying standard for the Olympics.
Latvian Ruslans Smolonskis was both off the entry and podium (although PB 3:50:31). 2107 European Cup winner in Poděbrady Ivan Banzeruk finished outside top ten (11th).
Only one place in total (three athletes counted) decided battle for team gold. Italians, also with individually fifth Marco de Luca, won it ahead of silver Germans, similarly, Ukrainians have beaten Spaniards by two points (places) to take bronze.
Gold for hosts thanks to Martínková
The organizing country won the primacy in the women's junior 10 km race. Its fearless ruler became Eliška Martínková, who won in a gun-to-tape style. Already in the middle of the course, she had a leading position of more than one minute over the nearest pursuer, who was Lizaveta Hryshkevich (Belarussian fell down to 6th place in the end).
At the finish line, Czech junior was one minute and 15 seconds earlier than runner-up Adriana Viveiros of Portugal, while she improved her personal record by six seconds to 45:46 and can look forward to both the World and European Junior Championships. Viveiros went 47:01 to take silver. Bronze Frenchwoman Maële Biré-Heslouis was four seconds back in close finish but improved national record 47:05.
Klára Hlaváčová finished fourteenth in 51:35 and Jana Zikmundová finished the race in seventeenth position in 53:13. The Czech juniors could rejoice in the team bronze. Young walkers from Portugal took gold ahead of France, with both equalled at 7 points.
Spanish junior's domination
The only Czech representative in men's junior race for 10 kilometres was Jaromír Morávek, but he went a brave race. To meet the entry for the start at the Junior World Championships in Nairobi, Kenya, he needed to significantly improve his personal maximum. He held on to the leader of the group of six almost halfway through and fought until the very last lap to earn fifth place in time of 42:27, which meant desired PB (by 1:28), but comfortable standard for Nairobi.
Although French Dimitri Durand went through the tape first, he was later relegated to fourth for breaking the rules in last lap. So, the race was dominated clearly by the Spaniards. In the career maximum of 41:35, Jose Luis Hidalgo won in front of his compatriot Paul McGrath (41:51). They were accompanied to the podium by Turkey's Serhat Güngör (42:20).
Spain clearly dominated team rankings, while France could still take silver Turkey.