World Champs Men’s 35K Walk — Double No Trouble For Martín

Man out for a stroll? No, Álvaro Martín at the finish of WC walking’s first golden double. (GIANCARLO COLOMBO/PHOTO RUN)

EMPEROR AURELIAN — called “Restorer of the World” — led the Roman Empire and its grand vision of world domination for a brief time in the third century A.D.

Racewalker Aurelien Quinion had similar visions of territorial restoration — after all, his nation, France, had claimed walk gold just once in the 40-year history of the World Championships.

Well, the 30-year-old Parisian pedestrian staked his imperial intentions early by bursting away from the big lead pack of the 35K race just past the 14th K (58:14) and holding on to that advantage past the 29th K (2:00:30) before his visions of golden grandeur evaporated in the rising temps and humidity.

With the pressure now on him, his technique did not hold up. Two red cards had come in previously and then the third, he was assessed the mandatory 3:30 penalty and, once back on the street, soon picked up his fourth and all his visions were at an end.

But they were just beginning for Spain’s Álvaro Martín. Five days earlier, he had claimed 20K gold at this same site, but no male walker at the 18 previous Worlds had ever struck double short/long race gold. History was to be made this day.

As Quinion wilted, Martín and three leading challengers surged.

Ecuador’s Brian Pintado, Japan’s Masatora Kawano and Canada’s Evan Dunfee were ready for their own bursts, but they all fell short.

Pintado floored it from 29 to 33K — posting laps of 4:03, 3:55, 3:57, 4:00, 4:33 — to lead narrowly. Kawano and Dunfee hung close — but they still couldn’t match Martín’s closing power. By 34K his 3:52 lap proved decisive and he spurted home, draped in a Spanish flag, with a 4-flat final circuit, completing the job in 2:24:30.

Pintado had plenty left, closing in 3:55 for a 2:24:34 silver and a South American Record, with Kawano taking bronze at 2:25:12, but there was no catching Martín.

Racewalking’s rules, of course, require “contact with the ground,” but Martín, gold medal now around his neck, told the media crowd, “Right now I am flying.”

“Now I am sky-high and only want to enjoy these amazing days.”

The 20K racewalk will remain but there will be no 35K on the slate for Paris24 – supplanted by the experimental mixed man/woman marathon distance (42.195K) team relay.

Martín remains undaunted, though, by all this tinkering with the Games schedule and now pledges all-out preparation for Olympic gold.

“It would be the pinnacle of a career,” he said. “So I am going to train hard, and fight for it, and dream of it.”

Pintado’s strategy had been to “stay behind and surprise them on the last lap.” By that point, however, there was insufficient petrol in his tank.

Hard-luck guy of the 55-total-K, two-day jamboree of the walk sport, however, was Canada’s Dunfee, the owner of 50K bronzes from Doha ’19 and the Tokyo Olympics. Fourth in 2:25:28, 16 seconds off the podium, he had been 4th in the 20K, too, after a 35K 6th at Oregon last year.

A wonky hamstring acted up and Dunfee’s medal hopes were over: “At 32K, it just went ‘pop.’ I thought I was done. I didn’t even know if I could finish.… This time, I wanted to go medal or go broke. And I guess I broke.”


(August 24; 1000m loop)

1. Álvaro Martín (Spa) 2:24:30 PR (8, 8 W)

(20:39, 20:55 [41:34], 20:59 [62:33], 21:04 [1:23:37], 20:46 [1:44:23], 20:10 [2:04:33], 19:57);

2. Brian Pintado (Ecu) 2:24:34 NR (9, 9 W)

(21:05, 20:52 [41:57], 20:39 [62:36], 21:02 [1:23:38], 20:46 [1:44:24], 20:13 [2:04:37], 19:57);

3. Masatora Kawano (Jpn) 2:25:12

(20:40, 20:56 [41:36], 20:58 [62:34], 21:04 [1:23:38], 20:46 [1:44:24], 20:13 [2:04:37], 20:35);

4. Evan Dunfee (Can) 2:25:28

(20:41, 20:54 [41:35], 20:58 [62:33], 21:05 [1:23:38], 20:45 [1:44:23], 20:17 [2:04:40], 20:48);

5. Christopher Linke (Ger) 2:25:35 NR

(20:41, 20:54 [41:35], 20:58 [62:33], 21:04 [1:23:37], 20:47 [1:44:24], 20:24 [2:04:48], 20:47);

6. Tomohiro Noda (Jpn) 2:25:50;

7. Massimo Stano (Ita) 2:25:59;

8. Perseus Karlström (Swe) 2:27:03;

9. Karl Junghannß (Ger) 2:27:08 PR; 10. Caio Bonfim (Bra) 2:27:45; 11. Ricardo Ortiz (Mex) 2:29:14; 12. Miguel Ángel López (Spa) 2:29:32; 13. Satoshi Maruo (Jpn) 2:29:52; 14. Kevin Campion (Fra) 2:30:18; 15. Andrea Agrusti (Ita) 2:30:32; 16. Riccardo Orsoni (Ita) 2:31:41; 17. José Montaña (Col) 2:31:45; 18. Veli-Matti Partanen (Fin) 2:32:28; 19. Dominik Černý (Svk) 2:32:56 PR;

20. Matteo Giupponi (Ita) 2:34:58; 21. Wayne Snyman (SA) 2:35:13; 22. Marc Tur (Spa) 2:36:04; 23. Xianghong He (Chn) 2:37:21; 24. Brendan Boyce (Ire) 2:37:26; 25. Aleksi Ojala (Fin) 2:38:34; 26. Jakub Jelonek (Pol) 2:38:45; 27. Ram Baboo (Ind) 2:39:07; 28. Qin Wang (Chn) 2:39:19; 29. Ever Palma (Mex) 2:39:40; 30. Bence Venyercsán (Hun) 2:40:34; 31. José Leyver Ojeda (Mex) 2:41:34; 32. Arnis Rumbenieks (Lat) 2:43:36; 33. Ihor Hlavan (Ukr) 2:45:18;

… dnf—Eider Arévalo (Col), Ivan Banzeruk (Ukr), Andrés Chocho (Ecu), Rhydian Cowley (Aus), Carl Dohmann (Ger), Narcis Mihaila (Rom), Aléxandros Papamihaíl (Gre), Dawid Tomala (Pol), João Vieira (Por);

… dq—Artur Brzozowski (Pol), Juan José (Col), Aurelien Quinion (Fra), Michal Morvay (Svk), Yangben Zhaxi (Chn).

(leader 5Ks: Lopez 20:39; Karlström 41:33; Quinion 62:21, 1:23:08, 1:43:50; Martín 2:04:33)