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Report05 Mar 2022

Morejon makes triumphant 35km debut in Muscat


Glenda Morejon wins the 35km in Muscat (© Dan Vernon)

The Chinese dominance witnessed on the first day of the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships Muscat 22 didn’t continue on Saturday (5) as Glenda Morejon produced a stunning performance over 35km, winning on her debut at the distance.

Not only did the 21-year-old scoop the individual title, she also led Ecuador to team victory – their first ever win in a team event at these championships.

India’s Priyanka Goswami set off at an incredible pace and passed through 10km in 47:26, two minutes and 25 seconds ahead of a 10-woman chase pack, fronted by world 50km silver medallist Li Maocuo.

But from then on, Goswami’s lead reduced with each passing kilometre. At 12km it was less than two minutes, and by 15km Li trailed the Indian by just 36 seconds. Finally, after about 16.5km, the inevitable happened and Li passed Goswami. Little more than a kilometre later, most of the chase pack had reeled her in too.

The race was far from over, though.

Li started to build up a leading margin of her own and reached 20km in 1:37:00 – a time that would have been good enough for 10th place in the women’s 20km on Friday. Morejon, having passed Poland’s Katarzyna Zdzieblo, was 26 seconds behind Li at this point but was starting to close.

One lap later, Li’s lead was down to 17 seconds. And at 24km, after another two-kilometre circuit, Morejon had drawn level with the Chinese race walker.

Morejon slowly began to pull away, fully aware that there were still 10 more kilometres to go in what was the longest race she had ever contested.

By the time she reached 30km in 2:24:35, Morejon had a comfortable gap of 34 seconds over Li, and her lead – and her confidence – continued to grow. When the bell sounded for the final circuit, there was no catching Morejon, who crossed the line in 2:48:33, just six seconds shy of the South American record.

Li, the Asian record-holder for the discipline, held on to second place in 2:50:26, while Zdzieblo took third in 2:51:48.

“We didn’t have a lot of time to train for this event, in fact we’ve been training for the 35km for only three weeks,” said Morejon, the 2017 world U18 champion who finished second in the U20 race at the 2018 edition of these championships.

“Together with my coach and federation president, we decided to enter the 35km here and honestly, it’s crazy, I still cannot believe what has happened.

“In the early stages of the race, I wasn’t feeling too well,” added Morejon, whose first three five-kilometre segments were outside 24 minutes while her final four five-kilometre segments were all inside 24 minutes. “I think it was a little bit of nervousness because it was my first ever 35km race so I tried to stay calm and save up as much energy as possible for the finish. And then I start feeling better and better.

“I believe the most important thing is to believe in one’s self,” she added. “Anything can happen and everyone can win. The power of the mind is really incredible.”

Morejon’s Ecuadorian teammates Paoloa Perez (2:53:58), Magaly Bonilla (2:54:39) and Karla Jaramillo (2:56:14) finished fifth, sixth and seventh respectively, meaning Ecuador secured the team victory.

Laura Garcia-Caro finished just outside the podium places in fourth with 2:52:10, but she helped Spain finish second in the team standings, just ahead of China.

Jon Mulkeen for World Athletics

1 Glenda Morejon 🇪🇨 ECU 2:48:33 CR
2 Li Maocuo 🇨🇳 CHN 2:50:26
3 Katarzyna Zdzieblo 🇵🇱 POL 2:51:48 SB
  Full results
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