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UK Athletics

Race walkers conferring – and recruiting!

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Nick Ball
Nick Ball

Race walking – which has yielded 15 Olympics medals for Great Britain over the years – is about to launch a recruitment drive by targeting quality runners.


The first Race Walk Research Squad Camp at Leeds Met University from 26-29 October will include the Race Walk Event Conference and a Talent Transfer Day,


The weekend, which has been made possible with funding from the Athletics Foundation and Leeds Met, will mark the beginning of a concerted attempt to restore British race walking to the status it last enjoyed in the 1960s. Don Thompson, who died last week, won the Olympic 50km walk in Rome in 1960. Four years later in Tokyo, Ken Matthews won the 20km walk and Paul Nihill was second in the 50km walk.


Now the UK Athletics Event Management Group has evolved a strategy to repopularise – and repopulate – this once highly successful discipline.


They are inviting “quality distance runners” to try out for the race walk squad at the Talent Transfer Day on 28 October.


Their message to possible converts reads:


"Do you want to compete for the Great Britain Athletics Team? Do you know someone who could compete at international championship level? If so, UK Athletics wants to know:


Are you aged between 15 and 25 years old?

Have you represented your county, region/area or country in distance running events (track, road or cross country)?


If you are a talented, committed athlete competing in distance running events and feel you could test your skills and abilities in the Great Britain Race Walk Squad – where the pathway to major championships teams may be faster, then we want to know!


We are delivering a series of Talent Transfer Days and there will be one in your region at Leeds Metropolitan University on Saturday 28 October 2006. If you wish to take part please contact the UK Event Coach for Race Walking, Andi Drake by sending an e-mail to a.drake@coventry.ac.uk"


“This will be the first of several such days, “ says Drake. “While we have some quality young performers like Nick Ball and Ben Wears, we have room for more and wish to give athletes the opportunity to try the event with a view to making GB teams!


“Most of the athletes in the current GB walks squad have a running background, although Ben has switched later than most (as too has his club mate Johanna Jackson), but this is a more overt strategy to transfer talent into the squad.


“We will run these sessions at venues where athletes can expect coaching support as they develop their skills and will give details of further sessions shortly.”