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jackson leads aviva gb & ni World cup race walk team

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Jo Jackson

10 May 2012

Commonwealth Champion Jo Jackson (coach: Andi Drake) will lead a team of 10 Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland walkers - Britain’s greatest representation at this event since 1999 - at this weekend’s IAAF World Race Walking Cup in Saransk, Russia (12/13 May).

It will be the first time since the addition of the junior 10km races in 2004 that the team has been represented across all five events, and although the Russians will be overwhelming favourites to win a clean sweep of gold medals in both individual and team results, current performances are pointing to resurgence in British race walking.

64 IAAF Member Federations will compete in Saransk, a record number for this competition, and the 2km, mainly flat road loop on which all five events will take place, is situated in the heart of the city.

Women’s 20km

Commonwealth Champion Jackson has spent much of the winter getting back to fitness following a knee operation after the IAAF World Championships in Daegu. A recent outing over 10km in Sheffield combined with her training at the National Race Walking Centre at Leeds Metropolitan University suggest she is getting back into shape.

Jackson has already achieved the UKA Olympic ‘A’ qualification Standard within the required period when winning the Olympic Test Event in London last May in a time of 1:31.50.

The hottest favourite for the event will be hometown girl Olga Kaniskina, however, who has not lost a major Championship since the European Cup in Leamington in 2007. The reigning Olympic, World and European Champion’s toughest challenge is likely to come from her teammates Elmira Alembekova, World Record holder Vera Sokolova, Anisya Kirdyapkina, Yuliya Loshmanova and Irina Yumanova.

The main challenge to Russia will come in the form of China. Liu Hon, the silver medallist in Daegu, set an Asian record of 1.25.46 at the IAAF Challenge race at Taicang in March. Other contenders looking to break the Russian dominance are Germany’s Sabine Krantz and Melanie Seeger, Italy’s Elisa Rigaudo, Sycely Ortiz Flores (Guatemala), Australia’s Rachel Tallent and Ireland’s 2009 World silver Medallist Olive Loughnane.

Men’s 20km

The British trio Tom Bosworth (Andi Drake), Ben Wears (Jacinto Garzon) and Alex Wright (Ray Hall) will all be chasing the UKA Olympic ‘B’ Standard of 1:24.30.

Bosworth clocked a big personal best of 1:25.49 in Lugano in March but was defeated by Wears by almost 20 seconds in the National Championships, while Wright clocked 1:26.54 in tough conditions at the IAAF Race Walking Challenge in Rio major last month. 

The fastest two in the World, Alex Schwazer (Italy) and Yohann Diniz (France) are absent and it’s likely to be a Russia v China battle at the front.  

Russia will have the two-fastest walkers of all time as well as the Olympic, World and IAAF Challenge winners Vladimir Kanaykin, Sergey Morozov and Valeriy Borchin and Stanislav Emelyanov.

The young Chinese team will be lead by World Junior 10k record holder Wang Zhen who clocked 1:17.36 in Taicang to win the IAAF Challenge, and the reigning Champion Wang Hao.

The challenge from outside these two countries will come from Guatemala’s Erick Barrondo (1:18:25), Giorgio Rubino of Italy (1:20:10), Dawid Tomala of Poland (1:20:50), Chris Linke of Germany (1:20:41), Eder Sánchez of Mexico (1:20:49), Bertrand Moulinet of France (1:20:52) and Luke Adams (Australia) and Robert Heffernan (Ireland).

Men’s 50km

The King twins Dominc and Daniel, both coached by Andi Drake, will both be looking to go inside the UKA Olympic ‘A’ qualifying standard of 3.59.00. Dominic King clocked a big personal best of 4.06.34 in Dudince, Slovakia in March which was inside the ‘B’ standard of 4.09.00 while Daniel King has a personal best of 4.04.49 (2008).

The favourites for the title will sit with the home nation as Frenchman Yohan Diniz, Italy’s Alex Schwazer, the world leader for 2012 over both 20k and 50k and defending champion Matej Toth (Slovakia) missing.

Former IAAF World Championship gold medallist Sergey Kirdyapkin and Sergey Bakulin, the World Champion in Daegu, will spearhead the Russian Challenge. Their toughest competition will come from Olympic silver medallist and Daegu bronze medallist Jared Tallent.

There will also a strong Chinese challenge led by Si Tianfeng, fourth in Daegu, and Pole Lukasz Nowak who clocked a recent PB in Dudince.

Junior Men’s 10km

Jamie Higgins of Leeds City (Andi Drake) in just his second season as a race walker, will be making his World Cup debut. He will be looking to put the disappointment of a disqualification in Lugano behind him and return to the form that saw him clock a personal best of 45.27 in Coventry in March.

Russia look set to dominate the race, however, through Alex Ivanov (40:48) Damir Baybikov (40:53), Kirill Frolov Kirill (40:57) and Pavel Parshin Pavel (40:59), but the Columbian  Eider Arevalo - the reigning champion - should put up a fight.

Athletes from China. Mexico and Spain will also be in the mix.

Junior Women’s 10km

The British trio are headed by Heather Lewis (Martin Bell) who has been rewriting the Welsh Record books this season. With back to back victories through February and March which included going under 50 minutes for the first time at the National Championships (49:51), Lewis finished a fine third place in the EAA Grand Prix in Lugano.

She is joined on the Aviva GB & NI team by two 16 year olds, Tasha Webster (Martin Bell)and Ellie Dooley (Andi Drake).  Both will be looking to attack their PB times of 52.45 and 53.53 respectively. Remarkably, Dooley has been a race walker for less than a year.