WC Men’s 20K Walk — Japan Scores Rare Double

6 years after winning World Youth gold, Toshikazu Yamanishi won his first big-boys medal. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

WITH YUSUKE SUZUKI already in the books with his 50K win 5 days earlier, Japan had major hopes of walking off with a Doha Double. Just one nation had ever won both men’s walks in the same 16 previous Worlds, Spain with Valentí Massana (20K) and Jesús García (50K) at Stuttgart ’93. Such powerhouses as Russia, Italy and Mexico had their chances and highest hopes but always fell short.

Put Japan now in the books: Toshikazu Yamanishi with his 1:26:34 triumph to go along with the 50 prize. Suzuki’s counsel helped Yamanishi deal with Doha’s conditions. “I really talked to him after his race,” said Takahashi, 23. “He advised me how to cope with the humidity and the environment. Before Doha, we had been training at an international camp.” It all paid off, as Suzuki wisely adjusted his pace.

A 10-man lead pack stayed tight through the first 7 loops of the 1K course, then began disbanding. China’s Kaihua Wang edged to a brief advantage before Suzuki broke it all up. The favorite reached 10K (44:06) with a clear lead over Sweden’s Perseus Karlström (44:23) and now really put pedal to metal. His early Ks had been as cautious as 4:32, 4:30 and 4:28. Now he got them down to serious business. Three laps in particular—4:14, 4:08 and 4:11 in kilos 15 through 17—decided all. With a stylish technique that elicited not a single warning paddle from the judges, the bespectacled Yamanishi brought it home in smashing form.

Just as predicted, this was the slowest WC in history. No past race had been slower than Ilya Markov’s 1:23:34 for Russia at Seville in ’99. The fastest of all WC titlists remains Ecuador’s Jefferson Pérez with his then-WR 1:17:21 at Paris in ’03. At the 1:17 point in this one, Suzuki still had 3km to go.

The real battles were being contested in Yamanishi’s slipstream. Karlström held 2nd from Ks 13 through 18 and seemed to have silver in his grasp, only to see Russian Vasiliy Mizinov win the homestretch sprint 1:26:49–1:27:00. “I don’t know where I got the power and energy to accelerate,” said Mizinov. “Spectators and fans here helped me a lot; my power was growing step by step.” Karlström called this one the capper to “the best season of my life.” There was delight back home, too. For Sweden, once a global walk power, this was a first-ever men’s Worlds walk medal.

Another quick finisher was German veteran Christopher Linke, who spurted from 8th at midway to 4th over the line in 1:27:19. With Koki Ikeda 6th (1:29:02) and Eiki Takahashi 10th (1:30:04), Japan did itself proud and won unofficial team honors.


WC MEN’S 20K WALK RESULTS

(October 04–05; 1K road loop) (temperature 90F/32C; humidity 77%)

1. Toshikazu Yamanishi (Jpn) 1:26:34

(22:28, 21:38 [44:06], 21:22 [1:05:28], 21:06) (44:06/42:28);

2. Vasiliy Mizinov (Rus) 1:26:49 (44:25/42:24);

3. Perseus Karlström (Swe) 1:27:00 (44:23/22:37);

4. Christopher Linke (Ger) 1:27:19 (44:29/42:50);

5. Salih Korkmaz (Tur) 1:27:35 (44:23/43:12);

6. Koki Ikeda (Jpn) 1:29:02 (44:23/44:39);

7. Tom Bosworth (GB) 1:29:34 (44:34/45:00);

8. Kaihua Wang (Chn) 1:29:52 (44:23/45:29);

9. Jiaxing Yin (Chn) 1:29:53;

10. Eiki Takahashi (Jpn) 1:30:04;

11. Marius Žiūkas (Lit) 1:30:22;

12. Erick Barrondo (Gua) 1:30:40;

13. Caio Bonfim (Bra) 1:31:32;

14. Massimo Stano (Ita) 1:31:36;

15. Dane Bird-Smith (Aus) 1:32:11;

16. Kevin Campion (Fra) 1:32:16;

17. Hagen Pohle (Ger) 1:32:20;

18. Andrés Chocho (Ecu) 1:32:49;

19. Georgiy Sheiko (Kaz) 1:32:53;

20. Julio César Salazar (Mex) 1:33:02;

21. Byeong-Kwang Choe (SK) 1:33:10;

22. Álvaro Martín (Spa) 1:33:20;

23. Brian Pintado (Ecu) 1:33:48;

24. Gabriel Bordier (Fra) 1:34:06;

25. Matteo Giupponi (Ita) 1:34:29;

26. Miguel Ángel López (Spa) 1:35:00;

27. Kolothum Thodi Irfan (Ind) 1:35:21;

28. Ivan Losev (Ukr) 1:35:42;

29. Luis Campos (Per) 1:37:20;

30. Viktor Shumik (Ukr) 1:37:23;

31. Alex Wright (Ire) 1:37:33;

32. Dawid Tomala (Pol) 1:38:15;

33. Samuel Gathimba (Ken) 1:40:45;

34. Eduard Zabuzhenko (Ukr) 1:41:04;

35. Diego García Carrera (Spa) 1:41:14;

36. Devender Singh (Ind) 1:41:48;

37. Hyun-Sub Kim (SK) 1:42:13;

38. Wayne Snyman (SA) 1:43:57;

39. Moacir Zimmermann (Bra) 1:44:16;

40. Aliaksandr Liakhovich (Blr) 1:44:25;

… dq—José Alejandro Barrondo (Gua), John Alexander Castañeda (Col), José Carlos Mamani (Per), José Ojeda (Mex), Callum Wilkinson (GB).

… dnf—Mauricio Arteaga (Ecu), Nils Brembach (Ger), Zelin Cai (Chn), Rhydian Cowley (Aus), José Maria Raymundo (Gua), Carlos Sánchez (Mex), Richard Egrey Vargas (Ven).

(Leader splits: Bird-Smith 22:26; Yamanishi 44:06, 1:05:28)