• Sponsors BannerWorld Athletics Partner
  • Sponsors BannerWorld Athletics Partner
  • Sponsors BannerWorld Athletics Partner
  • Sponsors BannerWorld Athletics Partner
  • Sponsors BannerWorld Athletics Media Partner
  • Sponsors BannerWorld Athletics Supplier
  • Sponsors BannerWorld Athletics Supplier
  • Sponsors BannerWorld Athletics Supplier

Report24 Aug 2023

Perez breaks 35km championship record to complete golden race walk double in Budapest


Maria Perez wins the 35km race walk at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 (© Getty Images)

Spain’s Maria Perez completed a golden double here as she added the women’s 35km race walk title to the 20km gold she won on Sunday, finishing in a championship record of 2:38:40, more than two minutes clear of Peru’s defending champion Kimberly Garcia, whose world double in Oregon last year has now been matched by Perez.

The achievement of the world record-holder completed a ‘double double’ for Spain shortly after compatriot Alvaro Martin had done the same in the men’s competition.

Garcia clocked 2:40:52, with Greece’s Antigoni Ntrismpioti claiming bronze in 2:43:22, one place ahead of Viviane Lyra, who set a Brazilian record of 2:44:40.

Garcia had finished fourth in Sunday’s 20km race walk, but her prospects were stronger over the longer distance.

Having set a South American record of 2:39:16 in Oregon, she improved on that with a world record of 2:37:44 in March this year.

Two months later, however, Perez took 29 seconds off that mark with her 2:37:15 victory in Podebrady, and in their only pre-championships meeting this year, over 20km, Garcia came out on top.

But Perez arrived in Budapest undefeated at 35km in all four of her career races – and there was never a moment when a fifth victory looked seriously under threat.

“I never could have thought it was possible to win two golds,” said Perez. “It was just too hard. But the hard work and pain paid off.

“I had a problem with my hamstring after the 20km and I was still considering whether to start at the 35km but I managed to get through.

“I felt confident about my technique today and wanted to maintain a normal rhythm throughout the race and not to damage my hamstring any more, so I really did the last 4-5km easy.

“This is a huge achievement, not only for me but for the whole Spanish team. I want to enjoy this moment. I could hear the people around the course screaming my name, cheering for me. That helped me too, especially towards the end.

“The special part of this event was racing together with men. The race walk deserves to have the longer distances. This is a great demonstration for everybody - for the fans, too, the course was full of fans - that in the future we can have a long distances, not just the short ones.”

With the women's and the men's races being held together, Perez was the 26th athlete overall to cross the finish line.

“These championships have not been as good as I expected,” said Garcia. “I wanted to defend my titles from Eugene over both race walk events. I was really upset with fourth place in the 20km but I had to calm down and recover to be ready for this race. It was not an easy competition.

“The pace was fast and I just did my best. Unfortunately, it was not enough for gold. To win a medal is always good, but I am not that happy with the silver over 35km. It looks like I will not have the ability to take revenge over this distance at the Olympic Games in Paris. 

“Race walk events are going to be changed next year. It will be only 20km and team relay. That is why I am going to change my focus from long endurance training to shorter and faster.”

Ntrismpioti added: “I cried when I went through the finish line because, although I didn't achieve my best result, this is a great day for me. This is why I get up so early every morning. At home I work for our family restaurant but it's closed now because my mom is here to support me. So I would like to say thank you to my whole family. Finally I got a medal for them, and of course for myself.”

Poland’s Katarzyna Zdzieblo, a double silver medallist at last year’s World Championships, began with ambitions intensified by her disqualification from Sunday’s 20km race for loss of contact.

At the 5km mark she led a lead group of eight women through in 23:39, with China’s Qieyang Shijie – who failed to finish a race that had started at 7am to mitigate against the current heatwave – Garcia and Lyra in close attendance.

At the 10km point, five racers had moved clear – Qieyang led through in 46:44 with Perez, Zdzieblo, Ntrismpioti and Garcia Leon in the group.

Zdzieblo continued to push on, taking the lead group through 12km in 55:52, with Japan’s Serena Sonoda and Lyra 20 seconds back and the main chasing group more than a minute further back.

Shortly after the halfway mark, the Pole led the lead group through 18km in 1:23.33, with Qieyang, Ntrismpioti, Perez and Garcia all stretched out by a stride or two. The next challenger, Sonoda, was 39 seconds back.

At this point the Pole increased the pace and attempted to move clear, creating a three-second margin after 19km. But her bid was swiftly covered by Perez, who in turn moved ahead, with Garcia Leon passing the Pole in an attempt to cover the Spaniard.

By 20km, Perez led, with Garcia three seconds back, Zdzieblo four seconds behind and Ntrismpioti and Qieyang a further two seconds in arrears.

A kilometre further on, Garcia had moved up to be within a second of the leader with Qieyang eight seconds adrift in bronze medal position, with Ntrismpioti and the flagging Pole a second behind her.

But Perez was not to be checked as she pushed on again to put significant distance between herself and her Peruvian pursuer.

At 23km the race appeared to have clarified itself as Perez powered on towards a double, seven seconds clear of Garcia, who was herself 19 seconds clear of Qieyang and Ntrismpioti, with Zdzieblo slipping back.

With 10km remaining, Perez had a second gold clearly in sight as her lead over Garcia increased to 24 seconds, with Ntismpioti almost a minute behind the leader, 12 seconds clear of Qieyang.

At 30km the lead gap was almost two minutes ahead of Garcia and more than three minutes ahead of Ntrismpioti. The medals were effectively decided.

Mike Rowbottom for World Athletics


🥇 Maria Perez 🇪🇸 ESP 2:38:40 CR
🥈 Kimberly Garcia 🇵🇪 PER 2:40:52
🥉 Antigoni Ntrismpioti 🇬🇷 GRE 2:43:22
  Full results

For highlights, exclusive behind-the-scenes content and the latest results and statistics during the World Championships, join Inside Track today for free.

Pages related to this article