Thursday, 30 August 2007
As we well know after nearly a week of witnessing endurance events staged in some of the most gruelling of conditions, this will be no walk in the park.
On paper, Norway's Kjersti Plätzer, the Olympic silver medallist in 2000 is the fastest in the field this year, her 1hr 27min 41sec national record coming in the IAAF Challenge event in Sesto San Giovanni in May.
But there is little to choose on recent form between her and her Russian rivals and two Chinese threats.
The Russian team includes the veteran Olimpiada Ivanova, the defending World champion and world record-holder (1:24:50, set in 2001, the year she first won the World title). Ivanova has yet to race this year, so her form is opaque, although it is fair to assume she would not be in Osaka unless she felt she could perform well.
The host country's Mayumi Kawasaki, who set a Japanese record 1:28:56, is sure to attract the crowds to the streets outside the Nagai Stadium, but she may be pushed to stay with the likes of 22-year-old Olga Kaniskina (RUS), last year's silver medallist at the European Championships, and China's Hongjuan Song, who has been building towards this race all year.
And race walking's most famous name will be represented in this race, as Poland's Sylwia Korzeniowska, sister of walking hero Robert Korzenowski, the three-time World champion, will also be stepping out.
Osaka 2007 News Team/sd
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