World Champs Women’s 20K Walk — A Chinese Medal Sweep

2015 winner Hong Liu got a second gold, walking a steamy 1:32:53. (MARK SHEARMAN)

HONG LIU had done it all in the racewalking game: World Records at both 20K and 50K, 20K golds at the ’11 and ’15 Worlds (plus a silver in ’13), to go along with a Rio 20K gold and a ’12 London bronze. Well, her dossier is now even glossier. And so is her nation’s.

The 32-year-old from Guandong Province continued proving herself one of the finest performers in the global history of the walking game with a brilliant 1:32:53 win. She began the first of her 20 single-K loops at 11:58pm Sunday. She finished it in a steamy flourish at 1:32:51am on Monday. Conditions were as challenging as they were in the 50K the night before.

Some 22 hours after Chinese women had gone 1-2 in the 50K, their compatriots did even better in the 20K. When Shenjie Qieyang (1:33:10) and Liujing Yang (1:33:17) rushed home in the 2-3 spots, China had claimed all the 20K medals and 5 of 6 all-told in women’s walking. China had gone 1-2 in ’99 and again in ’15, and Russia 1-2 in ’07, but no nation had ever grabbed all three medals in this event. And if teammate Jiayu Yang—holding 4th at 18K—hadn’t been DQed in the stretch drive, China might have made it even more of a Monopoly game.

Brazil’s Erica Rocha DeSena had hung on powerfully with the lead pack until the very latest stages of the race, but couldn’t match her Chinese rivals’ closing energy and settled for a frustrated 4th in 1:33:36. Colombia’s Sandra Arenas led the big Western Hemisphere delegation, 5th in 1:34:16.

Hong is a mom. Daughter Xixi arrived in November ’17 and meant major adjustments in the champion’s lifestyle. “I have to devote much time to balance family time and training,” she reminded. “It was a bit difficult for me at first.” But now she’s got the routine down pat, and is routinely again outracing her pack of global rivals.

Two more North American moms—Rachel Seaman of Canada (1:45:40) and the U.S.’s Maria Michta-Coffey (1:46:02)—placed 34th and 35th in the 45-athlete field. Seaman, wife of 2-time U.S. Olympic walker Tim Seaman, has two children; Michta-Coffey and husband Joe welcomed daughter Lilliana just 4 months ago. “The female body is an amazing thing,” said Michta-Coffey, the multi-American champion and recordholder. It has enabled her to bounce back into full training while maintaining a heavy schedule of post-doctoral microbiology studies and teaching assignments.

Just as all the winning Corniche wee-small-hours road times here have been, this was a WC “slowest.” There have been 10 Worlds 20Ks since the first at Seville in ’99, and none have been slower than 1:30:50. This one set another “reverse” record—by 2:02.


WC WOMEN’S 20K WALK RESULTS

(September 29–30; 1K road loop) (temperature 88F/31C; humidity 71%)

1. Hong Liu (Chn) 1:32:53

(24:01, 23:50 [47:51], 23:11 [1:11:02], 21:51) (47:51/45:02);

2. Shenjie Qieyang (Chn) 1:33:10

(47:51/45:19);

3. Liujing Yang (Chn) 1:33:17

(47:51/45:26);

4. Erica de Sena (Bra) 1:33:36

(47:51/45:45);

5. Sandra Arenas (Col) 1:34:16

(47:51/46:25);

6. Kumiko Okada (Jpn) 1:34:36

(48:05/46:31);

7. Nanako Fujii (Jpn) 1:34:50

(48:06/46:44);

8. Mária Pérez (Spa) 1:35:43

(48:05/47:38);

9. Ana Cabecinha (Por) 1:36:31;

10. Jemima Montag (Aus) 1:36:54;

11. Saskia Feige (Ger) 1:37:14;

12. Mirna Ortiz (Gua) 1:37:32;

13. Antonella Palmisano (Ita) 1:37:36;

14. Daryia Paluektava (Blr) 1:37:42;

15. Raquel González (Spa) 1:38:02;

16. Yehualeye Beletew (Eth) 1:38:11;

17. Valentina Trapletti (Ita) 1:38:22;

18. Karla Jaramillo (Ecu) 1:38:26;

19. Anežka Drahotová (CzR) 1:38:29;

20. Nadiya Borovska (Ukr) 1:38:35;

21. Katarzyna Zdziebło (Pol) 1:38:44;

22. Antigóni Drisbióti (Gre) 1:38:56;

23. Živilė Vaiciukevičiūtė (Lit) 1:39:26;

24. Meryem Bekmez (Tur) 1:39:36;

25. Glenda Estefanía Morejón (Ecu) 1:39:38;

26. Grace Njue (Ken) 1:39:58;

27. Alana Barber (NZ) 1:40:59;

28. Angela Castro (Bol) 1:41:15;

29. Inna Kashyna (Ukr) 1:41:44;

30. Jessica Ching Siu Nga (HK) 1:42:55;

31. Yana Smerdova (Rus) 1:43:49;

32. Valeria Ortuño (Mex) 1:43:51;

33. Laura García-Caro (Spa) 1:44:05;

34. Rachel Seaman (Can) 1:45:40;

35. Maria Michta-Coffey (US) 1:46:02;

36. Noelia Vargas (CRC) 1:46:30;

37. Ilse Guerrero (Mex) 1:46:32;

38. Mayra Carolina Herrera (Gua) 1:46:42;

39. Viktória Madarász (Hun) 1:47:38;

… dnf— Leidy Guerra (Per), Viviane Lyra (Bra), Chahineze Nasri (Tun);

… dq—Katie Hayward (Aus), Ayşe Tekdal (Tur), Jiayu Yang (Chn).

(Leader splits: Qieyang 24:01; Liu 47:51; Qieyang 1:11:02)

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