Australia's Jemima Montag in action in Adelaide (© Steve Christo / Athletics Australia)
Commonwealth champion Jemima Montag chopped 17 seconds off the long-standing continental record when winning at the Oceania & Australian 20km Race Walking Championships in Adelaide - a World Athletics Race Walking Tour Bronze meeting - on Sunday (13).
The 23-year-old, who was contesting her first 20km since her sixth-place finish at the Tokyo Olympics, finished in 1:27:27, breaking the Oceanian record of 1:27:44 that had been set by fellow Australian Jane Saville back in 2004.
The title secures Montag’s automatic selection for the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 later this year.
“It feels surreal at the moment, that national record is something I have been thinking about for a few years, but we’ve had the pandemic and cancelled races,” said Montag. “Often at times it hasn’t been the right weather or right conditions, it wasn’t what I had in mind but I could feel it was on in the first 5km.
"Sometimes you have that fear of success where your coach is yelling out that the record is on today, which is scary because you have the feeling of not wanting to let anyone down.
“It feels exciting to lock that spot in for Oregon, qualifying early and now we’ve got the next four or five months to put our heads down and train smart,” she added. “I’ve started an intense medical post-graduate course, so being efficient with times and qualifying is important. It feels good to do the three-peat and to have so many of the emerging senior boys to walk with was really lucky.”
Montag won the event more than four minutes ahead of Olympic teammate Rebecca Henderson (1:31:44).
Declan Tingay won his first national and continental 20km race walk title in 1:20:44, also meeting the World Championships qualifying standard to secure his spot on the team for Oregon.
Tingay, who placed 17th in Tokyo, was strategic in his approach, tucking in behind Kyle Swan for the first 15km, but asserted his dominance to smash his PB by more than three minutes, finishing almost a minute ahead of Swan's 1:21:39.
New Zealand’s Quentin Rew was third (1:22.23) and Olympic 20km race walker Rhydian Cowley was fourth in 1:23:29.
“I didn’t really plan on walking that fast this morning,” said Tingay. “I had planned on qualifying for World Champs via the points system. To find a few extra gears today and knock the time out this early in the season is awesome.
“It might mean I try to walk a bit quicker at the World Championships, and it might mean a trip to Europe sometime soon to see if I can lower that time again.”
Tingay's result has also secured the automatic selection spot for the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships Muscat 22, with the discretionary selections taking place this week.
With assistance from Athletics Australia
Perez and Amezcua victorious in Pamplona
Two weeks after winning the national 35km title in record time, European champion Maria Perez was victorious at the Spanish 20km Race Walking Championships in Pamplona - a World Athletics Race Walking Tour Bronze meeting - on Saturday (12).
The 25-year-old won by almost three minutes in 1:27:40, the second-fastest time of her career after the Spanish record of 1:26:36 she set when winning the European title in 2018.
She got off to a steady start, passing 5km in 22:24 with a six-second lead over Rachelle de Oberta. By the half-way point, reached in 44:01, Perez’s lead had grown to exactly one minute with Laura Garcia-Caro now in second place.
At 15km (1:05:47), Perez was away and clear, and had a lead of almost two minutes on the rest of the field. She covered the final 5km in 21:53, reaching the finish line in 1:27:40. Garcia-Caro finished second in 1:30:36, comfortably ahead of De Oberta, who held on for third place (1:33:41).
The men’s race was slightly closer, though Luis Alberto Amezcua ultimately emerged a comfortable winner in 1:20:29, earning his first national senior title.
Amezcua, the ninth-place finisher at the 2017 World Championships, made an early break in the opening kilometre and by 5km (20:31) had a 20-second lead over the chase pack, led by Jose Manuel Perez and including world bronze medallist Perseus Karlstrom of Sweden.
Amezcua increased his pace and reached 10km in 40:41, the eight-man chase pack now almost a minute adrift. He cranked up the pace yet again and the chasing group started to break up after about 12 kilometres. With a 19:52 5km section, Amezcua reached 15km in 1:00:33 with Marc Tur and European U20 champion Paul McGrath having broken away from the chase pack but still more than a minute in arrears of the leader.
After another sub-20-minute final 5km section, Amezcua crossed the finish line in 1:20:29, the third-fastest time of his career. Tur took second place in 1:21:36 with 19-year-old McGrath finishing third in a PB of 1:21:43. Karlstrom was sixth in 1:22:48.