Australian race walker Declan Tingay (© Getty Images)
Declan Tingay’s birthday is still a few days away but he gave himself an early 24th birthday present by breaking a continental record which is some 14 years older in the Supernova #2 race walk – a World Athletics Race Walking Tour Silver level event – in Canberra on Thursday (2).
The second meeting in the series was contested in warm conditions at the Australian Institute of Sport track. It wasn’t excessively hot but Tingay brought some heat of his own, breaking away from Perseus Karlstrom just 3000 metres into the men’s 10,000m race and going on to a 30-second victory in 38:03.79, elevating Tingay to ninth on the world all-time list.
As big a factor in the performances as the warm weather was the 21-day high altitude training camp most of the contestants had participated in between the first Supernova meeting on 6 January and the second. Karlstrom missed the first meeting through an illness diagnosed as glandular fever. The altitude camp is part of an endurance study.
Tingay finished 17th over 20km at the World Championships in Oregon, following a 10th place at the World Race Walking Team Championships earlier in 2022 in Oman. He was then a close second behind Canada’s Evan Dunfee in the Commonwealth Games 10,000m race walk.
But he clearly continues to improve. In Canberra, he and Karlstrom went straight to the front of the field as they passed through the first kilometre in about 3:50. The pace quickened further from there and 1000 metres later at 2km, the leading pair were some 20 seconds clear of Dunfee and Rhydian Cowley.
After another 1000 metres went by, Tingay had a 5-10 metre break over the Swedish race walker, a gap which had grown to 60 metres at the half-way point which Tingay reached in just under 19 minutes. Dave Smith’s Oceanian record of 38:20.9 was clearly within reach.
Lapping every other competitor except Karlstrom, Tingay continued to churn out kilometre splits of just under 3:50 to cross the line in 38:03.78. Karlstrom maintained his form throughout the second half of the race to finish second in 38:45.43 with Dunfee getting the better of Cowley in the second half of the race to take third place in 39:44.10.
Tingay’s time took just over 17 seconds from the long-standing ratified mark set by the prolific record-breaker Dave Smith in Sydney in 1985. Smith also clocked 38:06.6 in 1986, a performance that was not ratified as an Australian record, but Tingay’s mark also surpassed that. It is also an Oceanian all-comers’ record.
The win completed a double for Tingay in the Supernova series. From Western Australia, he has now moved to Melbourne where he is studying and is being coached by Brent Vallance. At his rate of improvement, he could be challenging for a top-eight finish – and perhaps something higher – at the World Championships in Budapest later this year.
Jemima Montag was not thinking records in the women’s event, but a savage surge in the eighth kilometre took her to a comfortable victory in 43:46.01 from Greece’s double European champion Antigoni Ntrismpioti and Raquel Gonzalez of Spain. After a sedate first half of the race in about 22:45, Montag’s increase of pace was significant.
A pack of six athletes stuck together for most of the first half of the race. Clemence Beretta of France did most of the leading with Montag always prominent in the group which included Olympic 20km silver medallist Sandra Arenas of Colombia and Magaly Bonilla of Ecuador.
A sixth kilometre of 4:19, the fastest of the race to that point, reduced the leading group to the ultimate first three finishers, but from the moment Montag surged with 3000 metres to go, the winner was not in doubt. The Australian, fourth over 20km at last year’s World Championships, eased to the line some 40 metres clear of Ntrismpioti with Gonzalez almost a full minute further back in third place.
Len Johnson for World Athletics