The last minute addition to the start list of this year´s race walking competition Poděbrady walking is a big name. It is the world champion from Moscow and the Olympic medallist from London Robert Heffernan of Ireland.
Robert Heffernan is a renowned star of the race walk. His biggest career achievements came on the 50k distance. In London 2012, he gained bronze at the 50k track and the year later, he became the world champion in Moscow 2013. He also got fifth at the 2015 world championships in Beijing and won sixth place in Rio at the Olympic Games last year.
However, he also achieved a major medal at the 20k course in the past. In 2010, at the European athletics championships in Barcelona he won bronze. He also competed at this distance twice under the Olympic rings. He was eighth in Beijing 2008 and ninth in London four years later. Also in Osaka 2007, he got sixth at the world championships. His personal maximus is 1:19:22.
The fifth man of the Olympic race in Rio and the 2015 Poděbrady winner Christopher Linke of Germany already confirmed his appearance in Poděbrady some time ago. Bronze medallist from Osaka 2007 Hatem Ghoula of Tunisia, bronze from African Games 2015 in Brazzaville Wayne Snyman of South Africa, or the former youth world champion and the junior European champion Hagen Pohle of Germany are also on the start lists.
The biggest Czech hope in the field will be Lukáš Gdula, who managed to win his national title last year in Poděbrady in the new personal best 1:25:50.
Next last minute change is the withdrawal of the Australian race walker Regan Lamble, who will not start due to the health problems. She was supposed to be the main opponent for the local favourite Anežka Drahotová. The new addition in the women´s field is Pulina Buziak-Smiatacz of Polan, the double national Polish champion. She is also a two time Olympian (London 2012 and Rio 2016). She also participated in the 2013 world championships in Moscow.
Program of the 85th annual race walking meeting Poděbrady walking starts this Saturday 8 April at 9:30 AM with the 5 km of youth and veterans. It peaks up at 15:30 with the competition of men. More information at www.podebrady-walking.cz.