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Report21 Apr 2024

Trapletti and Fortunato win inaugural marathon mixed relay for Italy in Antalya


Valentina Trapletti celebrates Italy's win in the marathon race walk mixed relay in Antalya (© Sergio Mateo)

There was a dramatic finish to the inaugural marathon race walk mixed relay at the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships Antalya 24 on Sunday (21).

The final race of the day came with a surprise win for Valentina Trapletti and Francisco Fortunato - nominated as the second team from Italy.

It looked as if Caio Bonfim and Viviane Lyra had race walked Brazil to a first team victory on a global level, but it was not to be.

As she heard the bell with 2km left, Lyra also heard the voice of the match referee calling her into the penalty zone. Brazil were forced to sit a three-minute penalty and seemingly hand Japan the title.

However, 38-year-old Trapletti had other ideas.

She betrayed taut neck muscles and gasped for air but passed Kumiko Okada over the final kilometre to make Italy stand proud at the top of the podium in 2:56:44 - four seconds inside the world lead.

Okada and Koki Ikeda played it safe to come home second. They were also on the limit with two red cards, but made sure of silver rather than lose all with a risky last sprint.

Spain finished third, with Alvaro Martin and Laura Garcia-Caro taking bronze.

Their country had effectively mixed and matched their best race walkers. On paper, the strongest pairing was Martin and his fellow double world gold medallist Maria Perez. But the latter also suffered a penalty in tandem with Miguel Angel Lopez.

The latter did finish 10th, but as the third team for their country, one of those pairings will not be at the Olympics.

The rules allow for the qualification of 22 teams, and up to five of those 22 teams can be a second team from the same country.

The other major surprise was a foot injury to Massimo Stano barely 4km into the first leg.

Although he struggled on and Olympic gold medallist teammate Antonella Palmisano took over, the changeover zone was empty when it came to leg three for Italy’s first team.

Sixty-seven teams lined up for the start in the hottest part of the day and 60 of those passed the first 1km barely five seconds apart. 

Sensible was the watchword as hosts Turkiye made an early bid for two of the coveted Olympic spots with a pair of teams in the top four, but these were early days.

The pace was levelling at close to four minutes for each kilometre, which for athletes of this calibre, was close to strolling.

Even so, that five-second gap at 5km for the first leg (20:04) had been pruned to 29 teams. That got whittled down further, and by 10km in 39:45 it was an elite throng of 14 with a last kilometre in a telling 3:52.

It included two teams each from Australia and Spain, with China, Brazil, Canada, Japan and surprisingly Poland in the mix.

Act two was heralded by a sprint to the changeover by Ikeda.

He was followed by two others from his nation, and getting to the front made for a clean handover, something of a relief to officials marshalling the 20-metre zone.

Japan may have finished one and two on the first leg, but that wasn’t to last. Lyra, on the back of a 1:28:25 PB from 6 April, and Yang Jiayu, the 2017 world champion and world record-holder, easily made up the distance to take over at the sharp end.

Okada recovered quickly to put one of the two Japanese teams back in the frame, after all she walked a 42:46 PB in January, but the rest were slipping behind.

Australia had moved into fourth, which was no surprise considering world silver medallist Jemima Montag was on second leg duties.

The second China team, however, with 2012 Olympic champion Qieyang Shijie, was hot on her heels. Making rapid inroads was a second Olympic champion, Palmisano, only to discover her fate at the end of her one and only stint. 

In fact, Qieyang handed over barely four seconds behind Yang. Little did she know, but the fomer's sprint proved costly with three red cards and three minutes in the penalty zone.

The third sequel saw Bonfim pushing on, but not as quickly as Ikeda. After all, he walked a world lead of 1:16:51 in February. The Japanese athlete made up 21 seconds to not only take the lead but create a significant gap to Brazil and China.

It was 12 seconds at 25km and getting bigger.

Bonfim dug deep to remain in touch and with the handover came fireworks with not just one, but three winning bids.

The final effort saw Trapletti gain a first global honour.

Mexico, with Ever Jair and Alegna Gonzalez, walked a solid race for fourth behind Japan and Spain.

Bonfim and Lyra were rewarded with fifth, despite the time penalty. Australia’s Montag and Rhydian Cowley claimed sixth.

Paul Warburton for World Athletics


🥇 Italy 2 (Francesco Fortunato and Valentina Trapletti) 2:56:45
🥈 Japan (Koki Ikeda and Kumiko Okada) 2:57:04
🥉 Spain (Alvaro Martin and Laura Garcia-Caro) 2:57:47
4 Mexico (Ever Jair Palma Olivares and Alegna Gonzalez) 2:59:21
5 Brazil (Caio Bonfim and Viviane Lyra) 2:59:55
6 Australia (Rhydian Cowley and Jemima Montag) 3:00:13
7 Spain 2 (Alberto Amezcua and Cristina Montesinos) 3:00:37
8 Ukraine 3 (Ivan Banzeruk and Olena Sobchuk) 3:01:03
  Full results


WRW Antalya 24 highlights