China's Liu wins women's 20km at World Athletics Race Walking Tour

(Xinhua) 10:08, April 10, 2023

TAICANG, China, April 8 (Xinhua) -- China's four-time world champion Liu Hong outraced national teammate and world record holder Yang Jiayu to capture the women's 20km title at the World Athletics Race Walking Tour here on Saturday.

Liu, 35, stayed patiently in the leading group in the early stages of the race and began to accelerate after 10km. Five kilometers later, she launched another surge to break clear from a three-woman leading pack to seal the victory in one hour, 28 minutes and 49 seconds.

"I just took the race as a training session and didn't set any specific goal for this race, because two weeks ago I just competed in a 35km race and next weekend I will go for another 35km event," said Liu, who set an Asian 35km record of 2:40:06 on her debut over the distance in Dudince, Slovakia on March 25.

Liu is also looking to compete in the Japanese 35km Race Walking Championships slated for April 16 in Wajima.

"My plan was not to walk too fast and tried to maintain my pace at around 4:30-4:35 [per kilometer]. The rhythm was pretty steady in the first half of the race and I found my body condition was very good after halfway, so I just pushed ahead to go for the win," Liu added.

27-year-old Yang Jiayu, who set the world record of 1:23:49 in 2021, failed to answer Liu's charge after 15km and had to settle for second place in 1:29:42. Fellow Chinese Su Wenxiu finished third in 1:29:46.

However, as 24-year-old Su was only entered for the Chinese National Grand Prix, jointly held with the World Athletics Race Walking Tour in Taicang, third place of the Race Walking Tour event went to China's Yang Liujing in 1:32:27.

In the men's 20km race that took place earlier on Saturday morning, China's Zhang Jun trimmed one second off his personal best to break the tape with a world-leading time of 1:17:38.

"My expectation was to achieve a result of around 1:19:00. But after 10km [when starting to lead the race alone], I became fully relaxed and began to walk with ease. The result is one minute faster than my expectation," said Zhang.

The 24-year-old Chinese National Games champion didn't enroll in the Race Walking Tour event either. As a result, Ecuador's David Hurtado, who finished second overall, took top spot in the Race Walking Tour event with a PB of 1:18:45. China's You Tao and Niu Wenchao completed the podium with times of 1:20:38 and 1:20:49 respectively.

"My objective for the race is to improve my personal best," said the rising Ecuadorian, whose previous PB of 1:19:24 was achieved three months ago.

This event marked the second time the 23-year-old has competed in Taicang. Hurtado took part in the U20 10km event at the World Race Walking Team Championships in 2018, but was disqualified after receiving three red cards.

The men's and women's 35km races will be held on Sunday morning.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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