Series22 Dec 2022

2022 review: race walks


Toshikazu Yamanishi at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 (© Getty Images)

As the year draws to a close, we look back at the key moments of 2022 in each area of the sport.

The series continues with a review of the race walks and will be followed over the coming days by reviews of all the other event groups.


Men’s 20km race walk

Season top list

1:17:47 Vasiliy Mizinov ⚪ ANA Sochi 31 January
1:18:36 Sergey Shirobokov 🇷🇺 RUS Sochi 31 January
1:18:46 Anton Kurbatov 🇷🇺 RUS Cheboksary 21 May
1:18:50 Danila Martynov 🇷🇺 RUS Cheboksary 21 May
1:18:53 Koki Ikeda 🇯🇵 JPN Wajima 17 April

Full season top list

World medallists

🥇 Toshikazu Yamanishi 🇯🇵 JPN 1:19:07
🥈 Koki Ikeda 🇯🇵 JPN 1:19:14
🥉 Perseus Karlstrom 🇸🇪 SWE 1:19:18
  Full results

Major winners

World Championships: Toshikazu Yamanishi 🇯🇵 JPN 1:19:07
World Race Walking Team Championships: Toshikazu Yamanishi 🇯🇵 JPN 1:22:52
African Championships:
Samuel Gathimba 🇰🇪 KEN 1:22:01
European Championships: Alvaro Martin 🇪🇸 ESP 1:19:11
NACAC Championships (20,000m): Jose Ortiz 🇬🇹 GUA 1:26:21.08

Season at a glance

What 2022 lacked in fast times, it more than made up for in exciting competitions.

In fact, that epitomised Toshikazu Yamanishi’s season as the Japanese race walker prioritised big competitions over record attempts or a packed racing schedule. He competed just three times in 2022 – twice over 20km and once at 35km – but he made each appearance count and won every time.

He opened his season with 20km victory at the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships Muscat 22, clocking 1:22:52 in the heat of the Omani capital to finish 37 seconds ahead of compatriot Koki Ikeda. Despite their 1-2 finish, Japan missed out on the team title by one point to an inspired Ecuadorian team.

Yamanishi and Ikeda once again took the top two spots at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22, although this time the gap between the pair was smaller with Yamanishi successfully defending his title in 1:19:07 to finish seven seconds ahead of Ikeda. Sweden’s Perseus Karlstrom was a close third in 1:19:18, and Kenya’s African champion Samuel Gathimba – who was third in Muscat – placed fourth in 1:19:25.

But while Yamanishi won the two big championship races, the Gold meetings on the World Athletics Race Walking Tour were less predictable, with all four 20km races being won by four different men, all from different countries.

Brazil’s Caio Bonfim dominated in Podebrady (1:18:54), then Jose Barrondo led a Guatemalan podium sweep in Dudince (1:20:56). Brian Pintado of Ecuador took the spoils in Rio Maior (1:21:54), and Spain’s Alvaro Martin won on home soil in La Coruna (1:19:58).

Martin’s next race over the distance was at the European Championships in Munich, where he struck gold in 1:19:11 as Karlstrom claimed silver. Karlstrom’s season-long consistency was rewarded with the World Race Walking Tour title, topping the men’s standings ahead of Bonfim and Pintado.

Russian athletes featured at the top of the world list with Vasiliy Mizinov posting a world-leading 1:17:47 in January, but the ban on Russian athletes following their country’s invasion of Ukraine meant they couldn’t compete outside their home country.

It meant that, outside of Russia, the fastest time in 2022 belonged to Ikeda with the 1:18:53 he clocked to win in Wajima in April.


Women’s 20km race walk

Season top list

1:26:12 Elvira Chepareva ⚪ ANA Chelyabinsk 27 August
1:26:58 Kimberly Garcia 🇵🇪 PER Eugene 15 July
1:27:14 Yang Jiayu 🇨🇳 CHN Nanjing 22 January
1:27:27 Jemima Montag 🇦🇺 AUS Adelaide 13 February
1:27:31 Katarzyna Zdzieblo 🇵🇱 POL Eugene 15 July

Full season top list

World medallists

🥇 Kimberly Garcia 🇵🇪 PER 1:26:58
🥈 Katarzyna Zdzieblo 🇵🇱 POL 1:27:31
🥉 Qieyang Shijie 🇨🇳 CHN 1:27:56
  Full results

Major winners

World Championships: Kimberly Garcia 🇵🇪 PER 1:26:58
World Race Walking Team Championships: Ma Zhenxia 🇨🇳 CHN 1:30:22
African Championships:
Emily Ngii 🇰🇪 KEN 1:34:30
European Championships: Antigoni Drisbioti 🇬🇷 GRE 1:29:03
NACAC Championships (20,000m): Mirna Ortiz 🇬🇹 GUA 1:40:04.78

Season at a glance

It took a few months for a leading figure to emerge in the women’s 20km race walk this year, but once Kimberly Garcia struck gold in Oregon, it soon became clear who the world’s leading race walker was.

The Peruvian star made history by becoming the first woman to win two race walking golds at a World Championships. She may not have won all of her races this year, but she consistently made the podium in all nine of her races and timed her peak to perfection.

Ma Xhenxia of China dominated at the World Race Walking Team Championships in Muscat, winning the 20km title by 92 seconds from compatriot Yang Jiayu with Garcia finishing third. But two months later in Rio Maior, Garcia achieved her first 20km victory of the season, winning comfortably in 1:32:42.

China’s Qieyang Shijie won in La Coruna three weeks later in 1:27:50, showing she was rounding into shape ahead of the World Championships. But so too was Garcia, who finished second in a national record of 1:28:38. Garcia then took a break from racing until the World Championships.

When she made her break in the 20km in Oregon, there was no catching Garcia, who went on to win in a national record of 1:26:58. Just as surprising was the silver medal from Katarzyna Zdzieblo in a national record of 1:27:31, and Qieyang took bronze in 1:27:56.

Garcia, of course, went on to complete the race walking double in Oregon, but she wasn’t the only athlete to win two golds at a championships in 2022.

Greece’s Antigoni Drisbioti won both events at the European Championships in Munich, taking the 20km title in 1:29:03.

Jemima Montag may have narrowly missed out on a medal at the World Championships, but the Australian still enjoyed a strong season, setting a national 20km record of 1:27:27 in February and wrapping up her 2022 campaign with Commonwealth gold over 10,000m in Birmingham in a world-leading 42:34.30.

Race walk 2022, did you know?

Men’s 35km race walk

Season top list

2:23:14 Massimo Stano 🇮🇹 ITA Eugene 24 July
2:23:15 Masatora Kawano 🇯🇵 JPN Eugene 24 July
2:23:44 Perseus Karlstrom 🇸🇪 SWE Eugene 24 July
2:24:37 Brian Pintado 🇪🇨 ECU Eugene 24 July
2:24:45 He Xianghong 🇨🇳 CHN Eugene 24 July

Full season top list

World medallists

🥇 Massimo Stano 🇮🇹 ITA 2:23:14
🥈 Masatora Kawano 🇯🇵 JPN 2:23:15
🥉 Perseus Karlstrom 🇸🇪 SWE 2:23:44
  Full results

Major winners

World Championships: Massimo Stano 🇮🇹 ITA 2:23:14
World Race Walking Team Championships: Perseus Karlstrom 🇸🇪 SWE 2:36:14
European Championships: Miguel Angel Lopez 🇪🇸 ESP 2:26:49

Season at a glance

The 35km proved to be a perfect ‘meet in the middle’ distance for the 20km and 50km exponents, because the top 10 finishers at the World Championships featured a good mix of specialists from both distances.

In a thrilling contest on the roads of Oregon, Italy’s Massimo Stano proved his Olympic 20km title last year was no fluke as he strode to glory over the longer distance, finishing just one second ahead of Japanese 50km record-holder Masatora Kawano, both men setting continental records (2:23:14 to 2:23:15). Perseus Karlstrom completed the podium with his second bronze medal, one week after finishing third in the 20km.

A few months prior, Karlstrom disposed of a high-quality field to win the 35km at the World Race Walking Team Championships in Muscat, finishing 40 seconds ahead of Alvaro Martin of Spain.

Spain’s Miguel Angel Lopez, the 2015 world champion over 20km, finished third over the longer distance in Muscat. He then placed 10th at the World Championships in a national record of 2:25:58, and ended his season on a high by taking gold at the European Championships in Munich, winning by almost three minutes.

Caio Bonfim also enjoyed a successful end to his year. After finishing eighth in Muscat and seventh in Oregon, the Brazilian took gold in the 35km at the South American Games.

As is to be expected in a new discipline, several national and continental records were set at 35km this year, many of them coming in Oregon. Along with the three medallists, other record-breakers included Ecuador’s Brian Pintado, China’s He Xianghong, Canada’s Evan Dunfee, Bonfim of Brazil and Eider Arevalo of Colombia.


Women’s 35km race walk

Season top list

2:37:46 Margarita Nikiforova 🇷🇺 RUS Chelyabinsk 27 August
2:39:16 Maria Perez 🇪🇸 ESP Lepe 30 January
2:39:16 Kimberly Garcia 🇵🇪 PER Eugene 22 July
2:40:03 Katarzyna Zdzieblo 🇵🇱 POL Eugene 22 July
2:40:37 Qieyang Shijie 🇨🇳 CHN Eugene 22 July

Full season top list

World medallists

🥇 Kimberly Garcia 🇵🇪 PER 2:39:16
🥈 Katarzyna Zdzieblo 🇵🇱 POL 2:40:03
🥉 Qieyang Shijie 🇨🇳 CHN 2:40:37
  Full results

Major winners

World Championships: Kimberly Garcia 🇵🇪 PER 2:39:16
World Race Walking Team Championships: Glenda Morejon 🇪🇨 ECU 2:48:33
European Championships: Antigoni Drisbioti 🇬🇷 GRE 2:47:00

Season at a glance

When it was announced that the 35km would replace the 50km, many race walkers realised it would make doubling up at major championships a little bit easier.

The one-week gap between disciplines at the World Championships also helped, of course. But that shouldn’t take away from the enormity of Kimberly Garcia’s achievement as the Peruvian race walker added the 35km title to the 20km gold medal she won in Oregon.

She was even more dominant in the longer distance, winning by 47 seconds. For just the second time in World Championships history (following the women’s 100m and 200m in 1991), a podium finish was replicated completely as Poland’s Katarzyna Zdzieblo and China’s Qieyang Shijie matched their medals from the 20km.

Glenda Morejon was the first race walker to make an impact at the longer distance this year. The Ecuadorian won the 35km at the World Race Walking Team Championships by almost two minutes from China’s Li Maocuo and Zdzieblo.

Qieyang won the next big race at that distance, claiming victory in Dudince in 2:43:06, finishing 13 seconds ahead of Garcia.

Greece’s 38-year-old Antigoni Drisbioti just missed out on a medal in Oregon, but she used that as motivation for the European Championships one month later, where she achieved a Garcia-esque double, taking gold in the 35km (2:47:00) and following it just four days later with gold over 20km.

Garcia’s winning time – and South American record – of 2:39:16 in Oregon matched the world-leading mark that Spain’s Maria Perez had clocked in January. Russia’s Margarita Nikiforova bettered it in August with 2:37:46, the fastest time ever recorded.

World Athletics

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