26th June 2017
Delight for race walkers who secure London places
Roundhay Park in Leeds was witness to a historic day, as four British 20km race walkers secured qualification for the British Athletics team for the IAAF World Championships London 2017. Tom Bosworth (coach: Andi Drake) and Gemma Bridge (Mark Wall) took the British and English Titles, with the latter clocking a huge personal best of 92.33, the second fastest ever performance by a female British race walker over the 20km distance.
The women’s race saw a race long battle between Bridge, New Zealand’s Alana Barber and compatriot Bethan Davies (Drake). The trio walked a strong first half and battled together until the 15km point when Davies slipped off the back of the leading duo. It was Barber that was pushing the pace, but Bridge sat behind her and made her move on the last lap to take victory and set a phenomenal lifetime best.
Oxford-born Bridge said: “I am not sure where that performance came from; I was planning on walking to secure selection. To win against this field is incredible and I am happy to secure my selection for London and to have four of us secure selection today is incredible! Getting a PB was the icing on the cake; it is going to be one awesome summer!”
Behind them Bethan Davies also stormed to a personal best and Welsh record of 93.04, the third fastest time ever by a British athlete on a memorable day for the race walks in the country.
Davies added: “I am thrilled to have secured my place and to get a Welsh record was incredible. The support and atmosphere was fantastic and it is great to be part of such a resurgence in British race walking.”
Erica Kelly (Steve Partington) won the battle for the bronze medal in the British Championships and silver in the England Championships passing Heather Lewis (Martin Bell) at the 12km point to take nearly six minutes of her previous best, to clock 1.41.27, which moves her to 4th in the UK list for 2017.
In the men’s 20km, Leeds based duo on home turf, Tom Bosworth (Drake) and Callum Wilkinson (Drake) went to the front from the start and soon established a lead ahead of Dominic King and Greek Zacharias Tsamoudakis which they maintained throughout.
They walked together until the last 100 metres, when in a sprint finish, Bosworth took the victory in 84.58, just a second ahead of Wilkinson, as they both secured their places on the team for London at the trial event.
Bosworth commented on his victory: “It was fantastic to take the victory and to secure my selection for London. I can now focus on performing to the best of my ability in London on The Mall. It was great that the Leeds public got behind me today”.
Wilkinson the World Junior 10,000m race walk champion, added: “This year has been such an amazing set of performances, and I am elated to secure my selection to line up on The Mall on the 13th August in front of a home crowd”.
In the junior men’s 10km, Tom Partington (Steve Partington) produced a significant personal best of 45.10 to move to second on the under 20 rankings for 2017. In the women’s 10km Ana Garcia (Mark Wall), clocked 51.53 to move to third on the UK under-17 all-time list.