Spain's Miguel Angel Lopez on his way to winning the 20km race walk (© Getty Images)
Some fine performances by Miguel Ángel López in the 10,000m race walk and Orlando Ortega in the 110m hurdles capped the Spanish Championships in Gijón on 23-24 July.
The event also marked the farewell of two of the most distinguished Spanish athletes in the guise of 800m runner Antonio Reina, 35, and discus thrower Mario Pestano, 38.
López in the form of his life 20 days ahead of Rio
World 20km race walk champion López showed awesome form in the 10,000m on the track.
The 28-year-old produced a magnificent display from the gun to reach halfway in 18:55.50, on schedule to break the world record of 37:53.09. The pace dropped outside of world record schedule in the second half, but his world-leading 38:06.28 clocking was still a massive PB by 47 seconds and moves him to fourth on the world all-time list.
“I’m really pleased with my effort today,” he said. “My goal was to do a good test for Rio so I still left something in the tank. My pace slowed down a bit between the sixth and ninth kilometre, I missed the record there. I'm now going back to Font-Romeu where I'll spend four more days before going to Barcelona for a week to get accustomed to the humid conditions I’ll face in Rio de Janeiro.
“I think China’s Wang Zhen should be tipped as the hot favourite,” added Lopez of his competition in Rio. “He’s in form and very consistent.”
López hopes to turn his fifth place from the London Olympics into a podium place. “I want to fight for everything in Rio.”
Álvaro Martín and Luis Felipe Amezcua set respective career bests of 39:23.51 and 39:29.00 to join López on the podium.
Fifa also reigns at home despite tough rivalry
The men’s 5000m offered a mouth-watering line-up as no fewer than three medallists from the European Championships were on show in the guise of Ilias Fifa and Adel Mechaal, who secured a 1-2 for Spain in the 5000m and the 10,000m bronze medallist Toni Abadía.
To add more drama to the event, barely one hour before the race, both Fifa and Mechaal had easily advanced to the 1500m final after a moderate effort in their respective semifinals, slightly under 3:48 in both cases.
The 5000m event kicked off at a reasonable pace (2:45:26) headed by Abadía in his attempt to take advantage of his opponents’ previous 1500m efforts but Fifa and Mechaal ran comfortably behind the successive leaders and a thrilling closing lap didn’t let anyone down.
Fifa led at the bell, closely followed by Mechaal and Abadía. But there was no catching Fifa and a 55.85-second final lap proved to be enough to earn his first ever Spanish crown over the distance in 13:38.22 while Abadía pipped Mechaal 30 metres before the finish line to grab silver in 13:38.50. Mechaal, who managed an impressive double 1500m/5000m last year, had to settle for third on this occasion in 13.39.17.
Fifa couldn’t match Mechaal’s achievement from last year as he finished fifth in the 1500m, which was dominated by European under-23 champion Marc Alcalá in 3:51.04.
“I just competed over the 1500m to gain speed in my build-up for the Olympics, my real target here was my specialist event, the 5000m,” said Fifa. “After my European title I would like to make the final first and finish as high as possible in Rio.”
Beitia and Ortega impress
Fresh from her third IAAF Diamond League win this season, Ruth Beitia had a comfortable win in the high jump with a 1.90m clearance at the third time of asking before failing three times over 1.95m.
“I had to take an early flight to Spain and could not sleep properly,” said Beitia, who had cleared 1.98m in London just two days prior. “But I’m satisfied with my outing and looking forward to Rio”
Orlando Ortega was victorious in the 110m hurdles in 13.09 (1.0m/s) only nine days after lowering the Spanish record to 13.04 in Monaco.
Elsewhere, Raquel González won the women’s 10,000m race walk in a world-leading 42:14.12 and Berta Castells won her 14th consecutive national hammer title with 69.41m. Marta Pérez was a surprise winner of the 1500m, defeating Solange Pereira in 4:12.74, while Caridad Jerez won the 100m hurdles in 13.15
Angel Rodríguez took the 100m title in 10.39 but was beaten by Oscar Husillos (20.83w) over 200m. Álvaro de Arriba was victorious in the 800m ahead of Daniel Andújar in a tactical affair (1:50.18) with European 1500m silver medallist David Bustos out of the medals in fourth. Sebastián Martes found no opposition to take the 3000m steeplechase title.
The newly-minted European 200m champion Bruno Hortelano was set to be one of the main attractions of the weekend after his impressive Spanish record of 20.18 last Friday at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in London when he sliced no less than 21 hundredths of a second from his previous mark. But he was a late withdrawal after feeling some discomfort in his right hamstring.
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF