Matej Toth in action in Dudince (© Milan Duroch, Slovak Athletics Federation)
Matej Toth became the first four-time winner of the 50km race walk at the Dudince Fifty, clocking a world-leading 3:41:15 on Saturday (24).
Not only was it the first 50km race he has completed since the 2018 European Championships, it was also Toth’s fastest time since winning the Olympic title in Rio more than four years ago.
The 37-year-old led from the outset and covered the first five kilometres in 22:30, by which point he already had a 10-second lead over Germany’s Karl Junghannss. Toth slightly increased his pace and by 10km, reached in 44:52, his lead had almost doubled.
Toth passed through 20km in 1:29:26 with Junghannss still in second place with a comfortable lead over three-time Dudince winner Rafal Augustyn and Ecuador’s Andres Chocho. By the time Toth reached 37 kilometres in 2:44:10, his lead had grown to exactly one minute.
The 2015 world champion managed to turn the screw even tighter over the final 13 kilometres and upped his pace to extend his lead. Junghannss, meanwhile, started to fade in the final 10 kilometres and was eventually caught by Augustyn after three-and-a-half hours of racing. Cocho later passed a tiring Junghannss with just a mile to go.
Out in front, though, there was no catching Toth, who delighted his home supporters by winning in 3:41:15 – the fastest time in Dudince since he himself set a competition record of 3:34:38 in 2015.
Augustyn was second in 3:47:42 and Chocho placed third in 3:48:57. Junghannss held on for fourth place and was rewarded with an Olympic qualifying time of 3:49:45.
“We planned for this pace and it all worked well,” said Toth, who also won the 50km in Dudince in 2011, 2015 and 2018. “I felt great. I wanted to start conservatively and then increase the pace and it worked out exactly that way. I am, of course, very satisfied not only with the fact that I achieved the Olympic standard but mainly with qualify of my performance. It gives me confidence that I can compete with the best next year at the Olympic Games when I defend my title.”
Polish record-holder Agnieska Ellward, winner in the Slovak town three years ago, regained her Dudince 50 title in 4:38:44, having overtaken compatriot Antonina Lorek at 34 kilometres.
Fujita smashes PB in Osaka
Keitaro Fujita moved up several places on the Japanese all-time list after sailing over 2.28m in the men’s high jump at the Michitaka Kinami Memorial, a World Athletics Continental Tour Bronze meeting, in Osaka on Saturday (24).
The 23-year-old, winner of the 2016 Asian junior title, had competed sparingly in 2020 but had been improving with each outing. In Osaka he cleared his opening heights on his first attempt but then briefly surrendered his lead at 2.22m, needing two attempts to clear it while Japanese champion Tomohiro Shinno got over it on his first try.
Shinno, however, failed at the next height, 2.25m, while Fujita cleared it on his first attempt, equalling the PB he had set next year.
Shinno passed straight to 2.28m but failed to get over it with his two final tries. Fujita, meanwhile, succeeded on his third and final attempt. He went on to have three goes at 2.31m and was unsuccessful, but he was happy with his winning performance and victory over the country’s top high jumper of the year.
Japanese champion and Olympic finalist Ryohei Arai produced a season’s best of 81.73m in the final round of the men’s javelin to defeat Takuto Kominami.
The pair exchanged the lead in the first three rounds with Arai holding a slender lead at the half-way point with 76.64m. With his final throw of the competition, Kominami launched a season’s best of 78.93m to take back the lead. But Arai did likewise just minutes later, sending his spear out to a winning effort of 81.73m.
The women’s event was even more competitive as four different women shared the lead throughout the competition.
Momone Ueda opened with 58.15m, just 10 centimetres shy of her recent PB, to take an early lead and she backed it up with three more throws just shy of 58 metres. National record-holder Haruka Kitaguchi edged in front in round four, throwing 58.36m, while Mikako Yamashita (58.04m in round three) and Yuka Sato (58.08m in round four) joined the 58-metre party.
Sato crept into second place in the penultimate round, throwing 58.19m, and then improved further in the final round to move into first place with 60.69m. Yamashita also improved in the final round, throwing 59.07m to move from fourth to second place.