Friday, 31 August 2007

Following Ivanova’s footsteps, Kaniskina takes fourth straight 20Km Race Walk title for Russia

Olga Kaniskina (RUS) wins the 20km Race Walk (Getty Images)

Osaka, Japan - With her comfortable victory in the 20Km Race Walk, Olga Kaniskina has followed in the footsteps of her illustrious compatriot Olimpiada Ivanova, who won the world title two years ago in Helsinki with a World record of 1:25:41.

Kaniskina is the product of the walking school of Saransk, the capital of Republic of Mordavia where the IAAF Walking Challenge Final will take place on 29 September. Saransk is a specialised center for preparation of walkers in Russia. She shares the same coach, Viktor Chyegin, as silver medallist Tatyana Shemyakina.

“This gold is for my coach, my family and all my relatives,” Kaniskina said. “My teammate Tatyana comes from the same training group. It was a great success for Mordovia and the city of Saransk.”

All goes according to plan
 
Today Kaniskina executed a perfect race going to the front from the outset for a near gun-to-tape victory in 1:30:09.

“I went on my pace according to my plan. It worked very well. I felt in very good shape and the race was easy. I came here on Sunday, but that was perfect. Technically everything went well and I had not problems with the weather. Five days before the race we prepared in Vladivostok and became used to the time difference.”

“I won the world title for three reasons,” she continued. “I was well prepared, my family gave me a lot of support, and third, I was very lucky.”

Olga began walking as an amateur eight years ago but began training seriously two years ago. She came to the Japanese coastal city with a PB of 1:26:02 from last year. During a successful 2006 season Kaniskina won the European Championships silver medal in Gothenburg, and went on to finish runner-up at the European Walking Cup in Royal Leamington in mid-May.

“My uncle and my cousins are athletes but they are not race walkers," Kaniskina said. "My brother sent me a nice SMS message before the race but I cannot tell you the content.”

There was some confusion at the start of the race, which also affected Kaniskina. When the race walkers were still in the stadium, they seemed to be directed to leave the stadium two laps earlier at the start. Asked if she was confused by the accident, she said: “I saw a man waving the white flag. I went to leave the stadium, but the walker called me back. I didn’t know very clearly whether I could leave the stadium at that point.”

Winning the world title at the age of 22 makes Kaniskina one of the favourites for next year’s Olympic Games, but Kaniskina knows there’s plenty of work ahead of that race, and another important outing before Beijing.

“Next year will be very important as Russia will host the Walking Race World Cup in Cheboksary,” Kaniskina said, adding, “Winning the Olympic title in Bejing will be harder than today.”

Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF

 

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