This Sunday Melbourne will host the historic inaugural women’s 50km walking championship of Australia at Fawkner Park, in South Yarra. The program will also see the return to competition for London Olympic champion Jared Tallent.
The women’s 50km walk received international status when it was first held at the 2017 World Championships in London. At its second major event, the 2018 IAAF World Race Walking Teams Championships, in May in China, Australia’s Claire Tallent finished on the podium, claiming bronze in an Australian record of 4:09.33.
On Sunday, a field of four line up in the inaugural Australian women’s title over this challenging distance. Favourite will be Claire Tallent (SA) and joining her on the start line will be Victorian’s Tracy Feiner and Kelly Ruddick. However, the main competition for Tallent is expected to come from Croatian, Ivana Renic, 21, who has over the last few months recorded personal bests of 1:38.33 (20km walk) and 4:35.39 (50km walk).
After nearly two years out of competition, largely with a hamstring injury, Jared Tallent makes his return to the roads in the men’s 50km walk. Still not at full fitness, wisely Tallent will easy into his return, as he builds up towards a race in Slovakia in March.
Favourite for the race is Brazilian 3:47 athlete Caio Bonfim, who was top-10 in his home Olympics in Rio, while WA’s Andrew Duncan, who has a 20km walk PB of 1:33, makes his 50km debut.
The support events have quality lines-up worthy of spectating. In the women’s 20km walk, Commonwealth Games gold medallist Jemima Montag (Vic) is an unbackable favourite.
The men’s 20km walk has a most intriguing line up, with clearly the next generation of very talented walkers in one of Australia’s most successful Olympic disciplines.
The field includes three of our 2018 IAAF World Race Walking Teams Championships representatives Rhydian Cowley (Vic), Brendon Reading (ACT) and the 21-year-old Adam Garganis (Vic). Also, just out of juniors and ready to make a senior team is Tyler Jones (NSW), 20. Pushing these guys will be our two outstanding teenagers, Kyle Swan (Vic) and Declan Tingay (WA). Their personal bests of 1:38.52 and 1:36.26, respectively, are ready for revision as they graduate to the senior distance. At the IAAF World U20 Championships, they both placed an outstanding top-6 with Tingay breaking the Australian under-20 record in fourth place.
The event timetable is:
7:00am - Men's Australian 50km Race Walk Championships
7:00am - Women's Australian 50km Race Walk Championship
8:00am - Men's Open Invitational 20km Race Walk
8:00am - Women's Open Invitational 20km Race Walk
9:00am - Men's Under 20 Invitational 10km Race Walk
9:00am - Women's Under 20 Invitational 10km Race Walk
10:00am - Men's Under 18 Invitational 5km Race Walk
10:00am - Women's Under 18 Invitational 5km Race Walk
For more details, including full entries visit http://www.athletics.com.au/Compete/Events/2018-australian-50km-race-walking-championships
David Tarbotton for Athletics Australia