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Returns and graduates to highlight 20km Race Walking Championships of Australia

Monday, 4 February 2019 | Rob Cumbrae-Stewart


The 2019 Australian 20km Walk Championships in Adelaide this Sunday will feature the return to competition for Olympic medallists Jared Tallent and Dane Bird-Smith and the graduation to senior competition for two of the finest teenage walkers Australia have produced. The Australian’s will battle a quality line-up of internationals, providing excellent competition for the Aussies.

Since Rio Olympic medallist Dane Bird-Smith (Q) won gold at the Commonwealth Games in April, he has competed just once, in an international race in China in September. 

But such is the standard of the race in Adelaide on Sunday, he will need to be in close to top-form just to place in the top-three. In particular he faces 2017 world champion, Colombia’s Eider Arevalo who owns a personal best of 1:18:53. A group of nearly 10 others are either sub-1:22 athletes or have placed top-30 at the World Championships or Olympics. 

Some to watch include: New Zealand record holder Quentin Rew, Rio Olympic top-15 athletes Evan Dunfee (CAN) and Ever Palma (MEX) and finally sub-1:21 pair Perseus Karlstrom (SWE) and Artur Brzozowski (POL).

It is 23 months since London Olympic champion Jared Tallent (V) has competed over 20 or 50km walk. The great news is he is fit and healthy and will be using Adelaide’s race as a key build up competition for a 50km race walk in Slovakia in March.

In the women’s 20km race walk you would expect Commonwealth Games champion Jemima Montag (V) to take the national title, especially off her recent form of two personal bests of 45:36.84 then 43:59.46 over 10,000m in Canberra in January. 

But she is unlikely to cross the line first as she has quality competition from three internationals. Lithuania’s sub-1:28 athlete Brigita Virbalytre and fifth place getter at the 2017 World Championships Sandra Lorenas (COL) look to be favourites for the win. New Zealand titleholder and Gold Coast Commonwealth silver medallists Alana Barber will also be competitive.

A very fit Claire Tallent (S), courtesy of her 50km walks training, will be a threat for Montang. Last year Tallent placed third just three seconds behind Montang who was second. Last week Claire won the American 50km walk title in Santee, the third 50km race walk competition of her career. Continuing her return, will be Rio Olympian Rachel Tallent (V), sister-in-law of Claire. Rachel’s training was limited in 2018 as she competed her thesis for her Honours in Psychology at the University of Canberra.

Three top-six places in race walking at the World U20 Championships last year in Tampere was our best ever result at the championships. Two of those athletes, Katie Hayward (Q) and Declan Tingay (W) commence their graduation to the senior ranks competing in the 20km walk in Adelaide. 

Hayward, who just last week added the Australian under-20 10,000m walk national record to her under-18 5000m walk collection, placed a magnificent fifth at the World Under-20 Championships. She will be making her debut over 20km in Adelaide. Tingay, who at the World U20 Championships placed an excellent fourth in an Australian under-20 10,000m national record, has been competing in the longer 20km for two-years and celebrates his twentieth birthday this week as he farewells his tremendous junior career.

The 20km race walk commences at 7.00am Sunday February 10 from War Memorial Drive, in Adelaide

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