This Sunday, May 16, the European Race Walking Team Championships, which follows on from the European Walking Cup, will take place at the Spa Colonnade in Poděbrady. The start lists promise an interesting spectacle. There are also medallists from world and European championships.
The women's 35-kilometre race will premiere in this competition. This event will certainly be interesting from the Czech point of view, as Tereza Ďurdiaková will start in it. Coach Ivo Piták's charge started her sudden rise last autumn in Poděbrady, when she unexpectedly won the championships title in the 20-kilometre race, in which she subsequently managed to qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo in the spring.
Now, for the first time, Ďurdiaková will try a 35-kilometer portion that could suit her even more as a former marathon runner. "I am pleased with the strong competition that is to meet in Poděbrady. From my point of view, I feel that I would need a little more time to prepare for the 35 kilometres, but I believe that I am well prepared and will fight for a quality location. We will see what tactics the other competitors will choose before the Olympics, but I would like to meet the entry standard for the World Championships in Oregon next year," she outlined her ambitions for Poděbrady race.
She will have really strong opponents. Among them are, for example, the winner of the 50-km race at previous European Walking Cup in Alytus 2019, the bronze medallist at the Doha World Championships and the European record holder Eleonora Giorgi. There is also the world and European champion in the 50 km, Portuguese Inés Henriques, who has bronze from Alytus, Lithuania, two years ago. Silver from the same race will try to defend Spaniard Julia Takács, who is also a bronze medallist from the 50 km at the European Championships in Berlin 2018.
Home team will also be represented in the men's 20-kilometer race, with fresh national champion Vít Hlaváč and experienced runner-up from championship race in Olomouc Lukáš Gdula. However, we must focus elsewhere for favorites. The Spanish squad will traditionally arrive in a very strong line-up. The 2015 Iberian Peninsula selection includes world champion Miguel Angel Lopez, complemented by incumbent European champion Alvaro Martin and silver medallist from the European Championships in Berlin Diego Garcia, who will also defend the bronze from the European Walking Cup from Alytus two years ago.
Poděbrady is a popular destination for Swedish pedestrian Perseus Karlström. The bronze medallist at the Doha World Championships will aim for the third valued metal in this competition. In the 2017 season, he was third at the spa colonnade here and even won in Alytus two years later. The fact that the course fits him is also confirmed by the fact that he is a two-time winner of the Poděbrady Walking meeting. He triumphed in the 2016 season and also in the last year last autumn (postponed due to covid from spring).
Poděbrady is popular place also for the German Christopher Linke. He even rejoiced in the victory in annual meeting three times and also won the European Cup in 2017. The packed line-up is complemented by, for example, the eighth fastest man in European history in 20 km Italian Massimo Stano, the recent Turkish record holder and fifth from the World Championships in Doha Salih Korkmaz or the sixth of the Rio Olympics and holder of the British all-time maximum Tom Bosworth.
In the women's 20-kilometre race, the Italian Antonella Palmisano will try to extend her 2017 primacy in Poděbrady. The bronze medallist from the World Championships in the same year won the European Walking Cup in an excellent time of 1:27:57. A year later, he won bronze at the European Championships in Berlin. There was the fastest Spaniard Maria Perez, who will certainly be one of the favourites. The national team colleague Laura Garcia-Caro will try to follow the bronze from Poděbrady 2017 and silver from Alytus 2019 with her third precious metal in this competition. Another quality Spaniard at the start is the bronze from EP 2019 Raquel González.
Portuguese Ana Cabecinha climbed the silver spot on podium four years ago at the European Cup in Poděbrady, and we must certainly count on her. She is one of the most stable pedestrians in the world, as she was not missing in the elite eight at the last two Olympics and four world championships.
The young blood is represented by the five-medal holder from international youth majors and the winner of the junior race in Alytus European Cup, Meryem Bekmez, who improved the value of the Turkish national record to 1:28:48 this season. On the contrary, the experience will speak in favour of the Ukrainian record holder and bronze medallist from the 2015 World Championships in Beijing Lyudmila Olyanovska.
Sovereignly the most experienced participant in the European team walking championship will start in men's race for 50 kilometres. He is the ageless Spaniard Jesus Angel Garcia. The 52-year-old legend won the title of world champion at the championship in Stuttgart in 1993, at a time when many of his rivals were not even born. During his long and rich career, he collected three more silver medals at the World Championships and won a number of other successes. He also won this competition twice, in 1996 and 2000 respectively.
Fifty-kilometre race at the European Cup in Poděbrady belonged to Ukrainian walkers four years ago. At that time, Ivan Banzeruk won in front of compatriot Ihor Hlavan, and both are on the starting list this year as well. The Germans Carl Dohmann (seventh at the World Championships in Doha) and Karl Junghannss will also be strong. The sixth man of the 2016 World Cup José Ignacio Diaz will support Spain's efforts for the best possible results. Rafal Fedaczynski, a Pole, also knows the Poděbrady course well.
The preliminary start lists include 212 athletes from 25 countries. Men for 50 kilometres and women for 35 kilometres will be the first to start on the track at 8:00. They will be followed by 10-kilometre races for juniors (9:00) and juniors (11:15). The start of the women's 20-kilometre race is scheduled for 13:30, and from 15:30 the men will race at the same distance.