Athletics reporting

With record 11th appearance looming, Feitor still believes 'everything is possible' - Daegu 2011

Daegu, Korea - Susana Feitor will be setting a record next Wednesday (31 August) in Daegu, just by taking her first steps in the women’s 20Km Race Walk, marking an unprecedented 11th appearance at the IAAF World Championships.

Not that she’s looking to stop, now she’s enjoying it.

Since Berlin 2009, the 36-year-old Portuguese race walker jointly has the most appearances at ten with German discus thrower Franka Dietzsch, having competed in every World Championships since 1991. Her career highlight during that time being the bronze medal she won at Helsinki in 2005.

Russian dominance of the podium places may well continue, but Feitor is looking forward with enthusiasm, intending to match her achievements and renew rivalries that helped inspire others to follow.

See complete story


Hoping for a vintage year, Diniz planning full schedule - IAAF Race Walking Challenge

IAAF Challenge Johann Diniz
Yohann Diniz thought he’d left nothing to chance for last year’s World Championships - story by TJW Media. The European Champion for the 50Km Race Walk trained as never before, arriving in Berlin with excellent morale and no physical problems, yet finished a disappointed 12th, having almost thrown in the towel.

This year the 32-year-old Frenchman is determined the experience will make him stronger, and, with a new more positive approach, plans to follow the
IAAF Race Walking Challenge through to the final in September.

Vasco - constant in her desire for progress - IAAF Race Walking Cup

The 24th IAAF World Cup of Race Walking at Chihuahua coincides with a fiesta entitled “Three Centuries, Three Celebrations”, celebrating 100 years of the Mexican Revolution, 200 years of Mexico’s Independence and 300 years of the city’s foundation. Its citizens may then appreciate an independent spirit in María Vasco, who refuses to be overawed by Russian dominance in her event.

The 34-year-old resident in Santa Margarida de Montbui, founded her own club in 2006 named as the town, but when sponsors backed out she renamed it, with all due immodesty, as Club María Vasco.

In terms of the record books, she is unique in Spain for being her country’s first, and so far only, female Olympic medallist in athletics, having won bronze in the 20km walk at the Sydney 2000 Games.

“Our country wants more success, but being the first to win a medal fills me with pride and is something historic”, said Vasco, from her training camp in Zaragoza.

Vasco - constant in her desire for progress - IAAF Race Walking Cup - interview by TJW Media.

The evolution of the IAAF World Race Walking Cup, and its strong Mexican connection

Race Walking tends to appeal to individuals, nations even, with the mindset of the dogged and determined. The underdog - passionate, defiant, yet unassuming.

While, in this toughest of endurance tests, success requires inspiration from within, more often than not, supreme triumph occurs when a group of athletes share the same passion, often inspired by a visionary leader.

For historic reasons, Mexico shares this passion, arising from the Olympics Games, and the IAAF World Race Walking Cup, a competition that was formed from one man’s vision for breaking down barriers between people.

Article by TJW Media: The evolution of the IAAF World Race Walking Cup, and its strong Mexican connection...


After 25 international seasons Plätzer shows how to end a career on a high

Kjersti Platzer winner in Sesto San Giovanni 2007
The culmination of 25 international seasons has left Kjersti Plätzer drained but satisfied, upon retaining her IAAF Race Walking Challenge title.
“I'm, empty but very relieved.” said the 37-year-old Norwegian a week after the IAAF Race Walking Challenge Final in Saransk, and six weeks after being disqualified in Berlin. “Now I can retire on a high which is so important for me.”   Such a long career has several beginnings - in Plätzer’s case due to injuries and motherhood. With her coach, Stephan, also her husband it may be a little intrusive to enquire deeply about some of their planning - but, what shines through is Plätzer’s sense of enjoyment of competition and the love of a challenge.
IAAF article
After 25 international seasons Plätzer shows how to end a career on a high.

Everything coming together for Olive Loughnane

On a rain soaked morning in Beijing the Women’s Olympic 20km Race Walk was won by one of the firmest favourites for gold, in the slender shape of Olga Kaniskina. Notwithstanding an Olympic record time, the Russian didn’t appear to thrive in the conditions, allowing a big lead to diminish to 12 seconds by the finish. Of the other contenders racing up behind perhaps the most surprising was Ireland’s Olive Loughnane.
Obviously entirely impervious to a bit of a drenching, Olive powered through from 13th at half way to claim seventh place at the finish. Within about half a minute of a medal she smashed her personal best time to record 1:27.45 which was also inside the old Olympic record, and 92 seconds superior to her previous best set in the World Cup three months earlier.

2006 winner Stef hopes to maintain consistency in the 2009 Race Walking Challenge

In the short history of the annual IAAF Race Walking Challenge no woman can match Romania's Claudia Stef in terms of consistency.
In its six years she had been ranked five times in the top six (the last five), and four times in the first three positions. Her best placing was in 2006 when Stef took the overall title.

One more year to the Platzer walking saga

Approaching the age of thirty seven (on 18 January), and having seemingly achieved a neat enough symmetry to her Olympic career in Beijing by winning a silver medal in what will be her last Games to match her achievement in the first Olympic outing in Sydney back in 2000, you’d have been forgiven for expecting Norway’s Kjersti Plätzer to be planning a quieter 2009.
Yet Plätzer has decided that for one more year she will juggle motherhood, business life and elite athletics; braving hard training along the dark and icy roads around Softeland.

Erickson looks to make his mark in 2009

Providing welcome pre-Christmas news for its race walkers, the Australian Federation named a maximum possible four man team for the 50km race walk at the Berlin World Championship. Chris Erickson was the one who ensured the team is known nice and early by gaining automatic qualification in winning in an ‘A’ standard time at the national championships two weeks earlier.
Flushed with success from Nathan Deakes’s victory in Osaka and Jared Tallent’s double silver in Beijing, the squad is bolstered by the inclusion of Luke Adams (sixth at 20km and tenth over 50km in Beijing).

Heffernan asking the right questions ahead of Cheboksary

Cheboksary, Russia - For a long time Robert (Robbie) Heffernan showed potential for honours at highest level - but injuries and disqualifications halted his progress for much of the time since his first IAAF Race Walking Cup in 1999. Now the guidance of Robert Korzeniowski and the environment of his training group seems to have turned round the career of the affable Cork man - meaning he is, perhaps, Ireland's top hope for an athletics medal in Beijing.
“I’m going well and you can’t write anything off”, said Heffernan in confident mood the day before traveling from his training base in Poland to Cheboksary, Russia for the
23rd IAAF World Race Walking Cup (10-11 May 2008).

Schwazer is experienced yet young enough to believe “everything is possible”

Officially, the fastest competitor for this Sunday's IAAF World Race Walking Cup 50km (11 May) is Italy's Alex Schwazer, not that the double World Championship bronze medal winner is approaching this event expecting to secure a podium place.

“I am sure that the Russians will dominate the race” he said, before departing for Cheboksary.

Feitor cautiously optimistic for Cheboksary and Beijing

Approaching her fifth Olympic Games this summer Susana Feitor wants to believe she can finally “do something” in a World Race Walking Cup and Olympic year.

“I’m enjoying my training and I think I can finally achieve a result”, said the 33 year old Portuguese race walker who has relatively thrived in IAAF World Championships in Athletics (bronze in Helsinki, fourth in Seville and fifth last year in Osaka) yet did not finish in the last World Cup and has had an Olympic run of luck showing 13th as her best placing, back in the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Korzeniowski: "'Paquillo' intentará ganar el oro olímpico, pero sabemos que no es el único aspirante"

Paquillo article (below) re-reported in a Spanish newspaper website

MADRID, 3 (ATB NOTICIAS) El polaco Robert Korzeniowski, tetracampeón olímpico, confía en que su pupilo Francisco Javier 'Paquillo' Fernández se cuelgue una medalla en los próximos Juegos Olímpicos de Pekín y confía en que la misma preparación que ya le permitió obtener la plata en el Mundial de Osaka (Japón) dé sus frutos."Estamos seremos en nuestra confianza de lo que podemos lograr. Intentará ganar el oro olímpico, pero somos realistas y sabemos que no es el único aspirante. Sin embargo confiamos en que el 16 de agosto estará al cien por cien preparado", subrayó en una entrevista a la Asociación Internacional de Atletismo.


Coach Korzeniowski confident that Paquillo is on track to realise his Olympic dreams

Speaking after a day at the office, with his daughter bouncing on his knee, Robert Korzeniowski now lives a far more conventional lifestyle than that of the full-time athlete. But away from his job in Polish television, the four-time Olympic champion still has a strong foothold in the world of race walking - in coaching his former rival Francisco ‘Paquillo’ Fernández, as well as promoting the Krakow leg of the IAAF Race Walking challenge.

Prior to travelling to the first event in the 2008 Challenge at Chihuahua, Mexico, next weekend, Robert asserted his confidence that Spain’s leading walker (shortened by Robert to Paco) is on track in his preparations and revealed some of their plans for helping him realise his dreams in Olympic year and beyond.

Full article


Luke Adams determined to walk his own path

A combination of Australian competitiveness, loving the journey and the friendships made (as well as sidestepping a bureaucrat or two) enabled Luke Adams to master the IAAF Race Walking Chal-lenge of 2007.

Ahead of a good hit out at the Australian 20km Olympic trials on 23 February, the popular 31-year-old looked back on last year’s events, and described what keeps him going through the hard work necessary for global success in walking.

Full article


Russia take clean sweep in Junior Races in Leamington

Russia emerged victorious in both Junior races, winning both the men’s and women’s individual and team events.

Russian Athletics | News

European Cup Race Walking - Leamington Race Preview

"The packed schedule gets underway at 8am on Sunday with the longest race in athletics - the mens’ 50km walk, while a Junior 10km for Men and Women will precede the hightlights of the events, the 20km for Men and Women."

European Athletics - European Cup Race Walking - Leamington Race Preview

Feitor determined to think positively in Rio Maior

IAAF - Portugal's Susana Feitor would have preferred to be relaxed and focused when the IAAF Race Walking Challenge comes to her home town this weekend.

Unfortunately, this week the 2005 World Championship 20km silver medallist has had to deal with the loss of some vital equipment for the modern-day globetrotting athlete.

“I had my car broken into and had my possessions stolen including my laptop computer, camera, iPod and Adidas kit..."

Series of articles published by IAAF to promote worldwide challenge

Deakes, injured by physio, delays his plans for IAAF Race Walking Challenge Thu 8 Mar 2007
8 March 2007 - Nathan Deakes, who set the newly ratified World record for the 50km Race Walk of 3:35:47 in December, will be spending more time looking at his IAAF World record plaque hanging up in his pool room than expected, as he has had to pull out of the IAAF World Race Walking Challenge event in Shenzhen, China, on 24 March, which would have been his Challenge opener.

Markov the likely trail blazer for Russia in the IAAF Race Walking Challenge Wed 7 Mar 2007
7 March 2007 - With the 2007 IAAF Race Walking Challenge offering prize money for the overall best 8 ranked athletes totalling more than $200,000 in addition to a $150,000 prize purse for each race at the World Championships in Osaka, and significant rewards at each individual event, this year’s Challenge which begins this coming weekend (10 / 11 March) in Naucalpan, Mexico, looks set to be more competitive, and bigger, than ever.

Saville confirms her Race Walking Challenge plans Tue 27 Feb 2007
27 February 2007 - During last minute preparations for her successful defence of her Commonwealth Games 20km walk title this time last year, Jane Saville was unexpectedly called upon to represent Australian sport in the opening ceremony at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. On that night she set the pace for 426 athletes as she proudly carried her flag. This year, Jane is preparing in more of a low-key style for the international season, while also able to be in support of, and be coached by, her ...

Fernández to race in Belfast at the end of his 'winter cycle of speed' Wed 14 Feb 2007
14 February 2007 – 2006 IAAF Race Walking Challenge winner Francisco Javier Fernández of Spain known more commonly as ‘Paquillo' in the race walking world has set out on a circuitous but familiar path to what the 2004 Olympic and two-time World championship 20km silver medallist and his famous coach Robert Korzeniowski hope will be gold at this summer’s World Championships in Osaka.

Plätzer targets the IAAF Race Walking Challenge in another comeback season Mon 5 Feb 2007
5 February 2007 - Even though 2007 marks her twenty first season of international Race Walking, Norway’s Kjersti Plätzer is motivated and positive about the battle for this year's IAAF Race Walking Challenge title.

Fernández to race in Belfast at the end of his 'winter cycle of speed'

IAAF – 2006 IAAF Race Walking Challenge winner Francisco Javier Fernández of Spain known more commonly as ‘Paquillo' in the race walking world has set out on a ...

Promotional article for IAAF published

To preview an IAAF sponsored series of events, the first of several planned articles was published today.

You can also hear the podcast of the interview with Kjersti Plätzer, the athlete featured, on the Race Walking Record web site.

Leamington Grand Prix

Preview and event reports were produced for IAAF, Athletics Weekly as well as Race Walking Record.

A gallery of images of the event, as well as the dinner event in the evening, see the Flickr set.


IAAF World Race Walk Cup

Working for IAAF at La Coruña, Spain, for the 22nd World Cup for race walking on 13/14 May.

The organiser's official website, including my contributions, are here.

My racing photos, taken in between assignments, are to be uploaded to Flickr - but here's the British Team, snapped on its return from northern Spain.