The World Athletics Championships is set to commence in grand style with the women's 20km race walk on Saturday, August 19. As one of the most anticipated events in the athletic calendar, all eyes will be on Budapest as elite race walkers from across the globe step onto the city's iconic boulevards. This event not only showcases the phenomenal endurance and technique of the athletes but also sets the tone for the intense competition to follow throughout the championship. Fans and sports enthusiasts are eagerly awaiting this inaugural event, as the rhythmic cadence of race walkers will echo through the historic streets, signaling the start of a thrilling athletic spectacle.
Women’s 20 km walking race:
Kimberly Garcia from Peru won two world gold medals in the 20 and 35 km races at the 2022 World Championships in Eugene. Garcia finished fourth in Rio Major in 1:29:31 and won in La Coruna setting a national record in the 20 km with 1:26:40.
Maria Perez from Spain, European champion in the 20 km in Berlin 2018, set a world seasonal best time and a Spanish record with 1:25:30.
Yang Jiayu, world champion in London 2017 and world record holder over 20 km, won the 20 km in Rio Major in 1:29:10, set a seasonal best of 1:26:41 at the National Grand Prix in Huangshan and won the 10 km in Madrid in 43:20.
Liu Hong will make her eighth appearance at the World Championships. The Chinese walker won four titles in Daegu 2011, Moscow 2013, Beijing 2015 and Doha 2019 and the Olympic gold medal in Rio de Janeiro. She set a Chinese record over 35 km with 2:38:42 in Wajima last April, but she will compete only in the 20 km.
Olympic 20 km champion Antonella Palmisano made her come-back from injury with a second place at the European Team Championships in Podebrady in 1:29:19. She also clocked 45:05 in the 10 km in Madrid.
Antigoni Ntrismpioti from Greece, double European champion in the 20 and 35 km in Munich 2022, will be looking to add another international medal to her collection. The Greek walker set a national record of 1.28:12 in Melbourne and won at the European Team Championships in Podebrady in 1:29:17.
Another strong European contender for a medal is world silver medallist Katarzyna Zdzzieblo from Poland.
The best Latin American contenders are Alegna Gonzales from Mexico, who won in Dudince in 1:28:09 and finished third in La Coruna in 1:26:59, Sandra Lorena Arenas from Colombia, who improved her national record to 1:28:02 in Nomi, Glenda Morejon from Ecuador, world under 18 champion in the 5000 metres in Nairobi 2017.
The best Oceanian athlete is Jemima Montag, who finished sixth at the Olympic Games in Sapporo and fourth at the World Championships in Eugene.
Women’s 35 km walking race:
Defending champion Kimberly Garcia will clash against world record holder Maria Perez.
Garcia won the gold medal in the 35 km in Eugene with a South American record of 2:39:16 and improved this record again with a world record of 2:37:44 in Dudince.
Perez took 29 seconds off Garcia’s record when she won the 35 km at the European Team Championships in Podebrady with 2:37:15.
Perez is unbeaten in all four of her career races over the 35 km distance.
The Chinese team is formed by Qieyang Shije, double world bronze medallist over 20 and 35 km in Eugene, Li Maocuo, second over 50 km at the 2019 World Championships and over 35 km at the 2022 World Race Walking Team Championships and Bai Xueying, the fastest among Chinese walkers with 2:40:59.
Antigoni Ntrismpioti finished fourth in the 35 km at the World Championships and won two European gold medals in the 20 and 35 km in Munich.
Katarzyna Zdzieblo won the world silver medal in the 35 km in Eugene behind Garcia.
Kumiko Okada, sixth over 20 km at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, set the Japanese record over the 35 km distance with 2:44:11.
Men’s 20 km walking race:
Toshikazu Yamanishi and Koki Ikeda from Japan finished in the top two at the World Race Walking Championships in Muscat and at the World Championships in Eugene in 2022.
Yamanishi finished third in Rio Major in 1:20:58 in his only race in 2023. Ikeka won the Japanese title in 1:18:58 last February. Ikeda and Yamanishi finished second and third at the Olympic Games in Sapporo behind Olympic champion Massimo Stano, who also won the world gold medal in the 35 km in Eugene. The Italian walker set a 10 km PB of 39:06 in Madrid and finished third at the European Team Championships in Podebrady.
Another strong Italian contender is Francesco Fortunato, who won the 10 km in Madrid in 38.50 and at the Italian Championships in Molfetta in 39:50 and the 20 km at the European Team Championships in Podebrady setting his PB of 1:18:59.
China’s Zhang Jun won in Taicang last April setting the world seasonal best with 1:17:38. The 2015 world under 18 silver medallist won the world under 20 race at the 2016 World Race Walking Team Championships and finished eighth at the Olympic Games in Sapporo.
Perseus Karlstrom from Sweden won two bronze medals in both the 20 and 35 km at the World Championships in Eugene 2022. Karlastrom won the Australian Open Walking Championships in 1.19:27, and finished second in Dudince in 1:19:44 and at the European Walking Team Championships in 1:19:27.
The Spanish team will be represented by Alvaro Martin and Diego Garcia Carrera. Martin won two European gold medals in the 20 km in Berlin 2018 and Munich 2022 and finished fourth at the Olympic Games in Sapporo. Martin won seven of his nine races across four distances. He set a seasonal best of 1:18:49 in La Coruna last June.
Garcia finished in the top three at the past two editions of the European Championships winning silver in Berlin 2018 and bronze in Munich 2022 and placed sixth at the Olympic Games in Sapporo.
Caio Bonfim, world bronze medal in London 2017, won the 20 km race in La Coruna setting a national record of 1:18:29.
Christopher Linke from Germany, European 35 km silver medallist, finished in the top 5 at the past two editions of the Olympic Games and at the World Championships in 2017 and 2019.
Brian Pintado from Ecuador placed fifth in the 20 km and fourth in the 35 km at the World Championships in Eugene.
Eider Arevalo from Colombia, world champion in the 20 km in London 2017, won the 20 km in Dudince in 1:19:23.
World and Olympic medallist Edin Dunfee from Canada won the 10000m at the Commonwealth Games and clocked 1:20 in the 20 km missing his PB by 39 seconds.
Samuel Gathimba from Kenya will be aiming to win his first global medal after finishing fourth at the World Championships in Eugene.
Men’s 35 km walking race:
The three world medallists in Eugene 2022 will clash against two of the fastest walkers in history.
Massimo Stano followed his Olympic 20 km gold medal in Sapporo with a world title in the 35 km in Eugene 2022 in a European record of 2:23:14. Stano will double up by contesting both distances in Budapest.
Stano will renew his rivalry against Japan’s Masatora Kawano, who finished one second behind the Italian walker in Eugene. Perseus Karlstrom won his second bronze medal in Oregon following his third place in the 20 km and will double up again in Budapest.
He Xianghong from China will focus only on the 35 km one year after finishing fifth at the World Championships in Eugene in a national record of 2:24:45. The Chinese walker set the Asian record and the second fastest time in history with 2:22:55.
Tomohiro Noda improved Masatora Kawano’s Japanese record with 2:23:13 at the National Championships, setting the third fastest in history.
Brian Pintado from Ecuador will also double up in the 20 and the 35 km Pintado set the 35 km national record and won in Rio Major in the 20 km setting a PB of 1:19:05.
The other athletes, who will double up the 20 and the 35 km are Caio Bonfim from Brazil, Christopher Linke from Germany and 2017 world champion Eider Arevalo from Colombia.
The Canadian hopes are carried by Evan Dunfee, bronze medallist in the 50 km at the Olympic Games in Sapporo 2021 and at the World Championships in Doha 2019.
Alvaro Martin from Spain won the 35 km at the European Team Championships in Podebrady in a national record of 2:25:35. The Spanish team will be also represented by Miguel Angel Lopez, world 20 km champion in Beijing 2015, and European 20 km bronze medallist Diego Garcia Carrera.
The line-up is completed by Olympic 50 km champion Dawid Tomala from Poland, Wang Qin from China, Satoshi Maruo from Japan and Rhydian Cowley from Australia.