Tallent on hunt for medal at IAAF World Race Walking Cup2 May 2014
ATHLETICS: Jared Tallent wants to add to his already impressive tally of major championship medals at the IAAF World Race Walking Cup in Taicang (CHN) this weekend.
Taking to the start line in his preferred men’s 50km event, the three-time podium finisher at the Olympic Games will be joined on course by a green and gold squad of 13 including his Australian Flame teammates Dane Bird-Smith (Qld), Chris Erickson (Vic), Rhydian Cowley (Vic), Adam Rutter (NSW) and Tanya Holliday (SA).
“I am not there for another Australian tracksuit, so the aim is most definitely to win another medal. I’m always aiming to win the gold medal, and hopefully this year will be the one,” Tallent, who will compete tomorrow morning, said.
“It is going to be a battle. The home country and Russia will both be strong, and I think that (Mikhail) Rhyzov who won the silver in Moscow will be the main challenge in the race. He has a personal best of 3:38:00 and I am expecting it to be tough to beat him to the line.”
Tallent has a virtually unrivalled history of success out-of-stadium, with his trophy cabinet including two silver and a bronze medal from the Olympic Games, two IAAF World Championships medals, the 2010 Commonwealth title and no less than ten national crowns.
He has also won two medals at the IAAF World Race Walking Cup, including a silver medal from the 2012 event in Saransk (RUS).
“The last World Walk Cup in Russia was extremely tough in the hot conditions and against the almighty Russians on their home turf. I remember being the only foreign athlete left in the lead pack at the 20 kilometre mark so to battle on for what I thought was a bronze medal was very special,” Tallent added.
“Unfortunately though the race wasn’t a clean one and last year I was upgraded to the silver medal position after a Russian was banned for doping. I’m hoping that this time around I come against a clean field that simply work and train hard for their success.”
This year’s IAAF World Race Walking Cup will be held in the Chinese city of Taicang, which lies on the outskirts of greater Shanghai. Home to an instalment of the IAAF World Race Walking Challenge annually, the course is known to be quick with Tallent expecting a fast time for the winner of all events.
“Taicang has a perfectly flat and wide course and it is incredibly fast. Two years ago Wang Zhen from China walked close to the world record in the 20km event at the IAAF Challenge race that’s held there, which highlights how good the course is. With conditions looking likely to be in the low 20’s I expect that you are going to need to walk about 3:40:00 to win the race,” Tallent said.
Erickson will start alongside Tallent in the men’s 50km event. Placing an impressive 16th in the event at the IAAF World Championships last year, it will be his sixth start for Australia at the IAAF World Race Walking Cup, with his best result being 15th in 2010.
The Australian contingent in the men’s 20km race will be led by the very impressive up and comer Bird-Smith. An Australian Flame debutant at the IAAF World Championships last year, he was outstanding in placing 11th overall before going on to win his maiden open national crown in Hobart (Tas) earlier this year. 2013 IAAF World Championships representative Cowley and London Olympian Rutter will join Bird-Smith in the shorter event.
In the women’s 20km event, Moscow 2013 starter Holliday will be joined by the national champion Kelly Ruddick (Vic). A mother of four, Ruddick is making her Australian debut at the IAAF World Race Walking Cup at the age of 41.
Tackling the 10-kilometre junior course are male athletes Nathan Brill (Vic), Jesse Osborne (Qld), Tyler Jones (NSW) and female starters Elizabeth Hosking (ACT), Jemima Montag (Vic) and Clara Smith (Qld).
The 2014 IAAF World Race Walking Cup is a biennial event that was first held in 1961. Australia’s first team competed in Eschborn (GER) in 1979.
Australia has won seven individual medals at the event, with Simon Baker (Vic) our only gold medallist. The men’s team, combining the performances of the three best-placed athletes in the 20km event, has also won two medals, including silver in 2006.
IAAF World Race Walking Cup Team:
Taicang, China 3-4 May 2014
Junior 10km: Nathan Brill (Vic), Tyler Jones (NSW), Jesse Osborne (Qld)
20km: Dane Bird-Smith (Qld), Rhydian Cowley (Vic), Adam Rutter (NSW)
50km: Chris Erickson (Vic), Jared Tallent (Vic)
Junior 10km: Elizabeth Hosking (ACT), Jemima Montag (Vic), Clara Smith (Qld)
20km: Tanya Holliday (SA), Kelly Ruddick (Vic)
In other upcoming competition for Australians, Melissa Breen (ACT) will race the women’s 200m in Shizuoka (JPN) on 3 May, before further competition in Mito (JPN) on 5 May and Tokyo (JPN) on 11 May.
The national 100m record holder, Breen will be joined at the Tokyo-leg of the IAAF World Challenge by Melissa Duncan (Vic, 1500m), Bridey Delaney (NSW, 1500m) and James Nipperess (NSW, 3000m steeplechase).
Ryan Gregson (NSW) will launch his international campaign in the men’s 1500m alongside Selma Kajan (NSW, 800m) at the American Track Leageue event in Bloomington (USA) tomorrow.
Ben St Lawrence (NSW) and Liam Adams (Vic) will both race in the men’s 10,000m at the Payton Jordan Invitational at Stanford (USA) on 4 May, with Genevieve LaCaze (Qld) to start in the women’s 3000m steeplechase.