20th August 2022
LEWIS SECURES GB & NI’S BEST WOMEN’S 20KM RACE WALK FINISH IN 12 YEARS
Heather Lewis (coach: Martin Bell; club: Pembrokeshire) secured the best finish in over a decade for a British women’s 20km race walker at the European Championships as she took 13th spot, as compatriot Callum Wilkinson (Rob Heffernan; Enfield & Haringey) was disqualified.
The frantic early pace of the women’s event had Lewis in the latter half of competitors in the opening stages, but made good progress by climbing to 14th spot at the 5km point.
Lewis held her technique well as she passed the halfway mark in 15th spot in 46:54, one minute and 52 seconds behind race leader Maria Perez (ESP).
As the conditions deteriorated and others around her picked up time penalties and disqualifications, Lewis kept her form and made amends for her disqualification in Berlin four years ago, finishing in 13th place in 1:35:36, the best performance by a British woman at the championships since Jo Jackson in 2010.
Lewis said afterwards: “To be honest I am pretty disappointed. I felt great at halfway but then after halfway I had nothing really to give, so I’m a bit disappointed in the way I felt, but you know the end result wasn’t as terrible as I thought so it’s fine. It’s been great to be out here and representing Great Britain – it’s a privilege, I’m just a little bit disappointed.
“I’ve worked really hard on my technique and know when I get any cards how to deal with it, so that’s come a long way and I’m really pleased, I need to now try get a little bit fitter to be able to be stronger physically through the second half and to be able to push on and do a quicker second part.”
After seeing Wilkinson be disqualified in the men’s final earlier in the morning, she reflected: “I really sympathise for him. At the last European Championships I was also DQd and so I know how it feels and you never want to get DQd but it is all part of the sport. I really feel for him, I’m really gutted as he’s in great shape and it was so sad he was DQd.”
Wilkinson went out strongly, heading straight to the front of the field and trying to make the pace an honest one on the 2km loop on the road.
As the athletes exchanged the lead in the early stages, Wilkinson continued to hold his position on edge of the leading group, flanking Sweden’s Perseus Karlström who led the group through 5km in 16:20.
However, the Commonwealth Games fourth placer’s competition came to a premature end just as the race entered its halfway point as Wilkinson picked up his fourth warning card in quick succession, meaning he was disqualified.
Great Britain and Northern Ireland medal tally (14):
Gold: Matthew Hudson-Smith – 400m
Gold: Zharnel Hughes – 200m
Gold: Laura Muir – 1500m
Silver: Dina Asher-Smith – 200m
Silver: Eilish McColgan – 10,000m
Silver: Jake Heyward – 1500m
Silver: Zharnel Hughes – 100m
Silver: Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake – 200m
Bronze: Jeremiah Azu – 100m
Bronze: Daryll Neita – 100m
Bronze: Alex Haydock-Wilson – 400m
Bronze: Eilish McColgan – 5000m
Bronze: Lawrence Okoye – Discus
Bronze: Jazmin Sawyers – Long Jump