2011 World Champs/Daegu: Valeriy Borchin Wins Men's 20k, by Elliott Denman, note by Larry Eder

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The official emblem of the 2011 World Champion...


The 20,000 meter Men's race walk was held Sunday morning in brutal conditions, with Valeriy Borchin of Russia taking the gold in 1:19:56. Vladamir Kanaykin of Russia took the silver in 1:20:27 and Luis Fernando Lopez of Columbia took the bronze, in 1:20:38, giving Columbia their first EVER medal in the World Athletics Championships. In 23rd place, Trevor Barron, the lone American, finished 23rd in 1:24:33, the youngest competitor in the Championships.

We asked 1956 Olympian in the 50k, Elliott Denman, one of our top contributors, to give us his expert view of one of the toughest endurance events in the championships. Here is his view of the race:


Saransk (Mordovia), coat of arms

Image via Wikipedia

By ELLIOTT DENMAN
 
DAEGU - When the going got tough, Valeriy Borchin got going.
 
Did he ever.
 
Pedal to the metal, the nearly 25-year-old Russian (he reaches all of a quarter-century on Sept. 11th) zoom-zoom-zoomed away from his final pursuers and went on to collect the gold medal in the men's 20K racewalk Sunday morning, clocking 1:19:56, considered darn good in the somewhat steamy conditions.
 
Kenyans had swept the first six medals of the 13th World Championships of Track and Field, top three Saturday morning in the women's marathon and top three in the women's 10,000 meters Saturday night.
 
David Kimutai Rotich was not about to extend the streak Sunday morning on the downtown Daegu streets. Kenyan's lone delegate to the 53-man 20K event, he placed 32nd in 1:27:20, a season best but nowhere even close to Borchin.
 
Some suggest - as an aside - just wait till Kenya, with its vast array of distance talent - catches on to the techniques and nuances of the racewalking game.
 
Q. Can Kenya ever become the new Russia of racewalking?
 
A. Don't bet on it.
 
Then again, don't bet on any one nation catching up to the Russian racewalking establishment anytime soon.
 
Based in the Saransk area of the Mordovia region, some 350 miles east of Moscow, the Mordovian Academy of Racewalking - there really is such a place - keeps churning out  stars and stars and more stars.
 
Borchin dedicated his win to both his nation and his region.
 
"The governor of Mordovia and the mayor of Saransk are wonderful to me, and to all walkers," said Borchin. 
"I couldn't do what I am now doing living anywhere else."
 
Under the guidance of the controversial Viktor Chegin,  - who has seen some of his top people, Borchin and Vladimir Kanaykin included, hit with drug charges - but the Saransk crew keeps coming back and coming back.
 
In patented style, Borchin came back like gangbusters to win his second consecutive Worlds gold, on top of his 2008 Beijing Olympic gold - to establish himself as the clearcut 20K favorite heading into the London Games of 2012.
 
Borchin reeled off 5Ks in 21:15, 20:18, 18;9:44 and 19:14, while Kanaykin, charging hard himself, earned the silver in 1:20:27.
 
Loud cheers reverberated all the way back to Northern South America, too.
 
When Luis Fernando Lopez crossed the line third in 1:20:38, it represented the first medal ever won by Colombia at the Worlds.
 
Once upon a time, the Colombian walking establishment, it seemed, represented a single family, the famous Morenos.  But now there's considerable depth in the Colombian ranks and Lopez - rehabbing through a groin injury - has brought athletic joy to a nation that's always cheered its cyclists and soccermen.
 
Completing the top six: Zhen Wang of China, the man some thought a pre-race gold candidate, 1:20:54; Stanislav Emelyanov, a 20-year-old Russian, 1:21:11, and Hyunsub Kim of host Korea, 1:21:17.
 
There was good news in the USA camp, too.
 
Pittsburgher Trevor Barron came in as both the youngest 20K walker - he'll be 19 on Sept. 30 - and tallest at 6-feet-4.

Barron_Trevor-WJunior10.JPGTrevor Barron, World Jr 10k, photo by PhotoRun.net
 
Competing in the most important race of his life, the Colorado College (Colorado Springs)-bound Barron hung with the mid-pack for much of the way and finished a solid 23rd in 1:24:33, well up beyond half the field.
 
"This was very encouraging to me," said Barron.
This was the biggest race I've ever been to and I did OK.  It was great experince for me and certainly has to help down the line."
 
Editorial misjudgement: The cover photo of the Team Italy World Championships media guide focused on the feet (solidly in contact with the ground, as the rules of racewalking prescribe) of top medal candidate Giorgio Rubino.
 
On Sunday, however, those feet were detected "out of contact" by three members of the judging panel and so he was red-paddled to the sidlelines after leading the field through a 21:03 opening 5K and still a close second at midway in 41:01.
 
"C'est la vie," Mauricio Damilano's shrugging shoulders seemed to be saying. Damilano, twice a past World 20K champion for Italy and 1980 Olympic king, now heads the IAAF Racewalking Commission.
 
Others had their shot at the lead and faded,  Japan's Yusuke Suzuki was in front midway in 40:58 and still in medal contention through the final Ks before dropping to eighth.  China's Wang was right there with Borchin through 15K, second  in 1:00:49, but dropped to fourth.
 
A particularly popularly performer was Hyunsub Kim.
 
Korea is hosting the World Championships - in impeccable fashion thus far - despite a total production of zero medals in the 13 previous editions of the Worlds.  So Kim's solid sixth place was very cheering news to the home fans.
 
Many of the world's top women walkers - who will compete in their own 20K on Wednesday - were on hand to cheer their male compatriots.  The ladies can expect equal support from the men three days hence.
 
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