It has so far been a case of close but not quite for Christopher Linke in major competitions but the 29-year-old is determined to break his duck at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships, part of the inaugural multi-sport European Championships with co-hosts Glasgow from 2-12 August.
Linke has finished fifth in the 20km race walk at the European Championships, World Championships and Olympic Games but he did have the beating of the continent’s best at the European Race Walking Cup in Podebrady last May where defeated reigning world champion Miguel Angel Lopez from Spain among others in the Czech spa town.
On his day, Linke can go toe-to-toe with the best the world has to offer but the German is aware the 20km race walk is far from a soft event in Berlin.
Five of the top ten finishers at the IAAF World Championships were European and world 50km race walk record-holder Yohann Diniz from France has suggested he could drop down to contest the 20km race walk - a distance over which he also holds the European record - this summer.
“In London [at the World Championships] five Europeans - including three Spaniards - went below 1:20. There is currently a very high level in Europe. The Spaniards have improved a lot; they have a strong team. I do not know which Russians will come back but this will not be a matter in Berlin. I will do everything to win a medal,” Linke told Leichtathletik.de in a recent interview.
Linke said that “one percent was missing” in the World Championships in London where he faded out of medal contention in the closing stages and his quest “to tease out that one percent” will take him to three continents in the build-up to Berlin.
Linke has already spent time at training camps in Dullstroom, South Africa and Chiclana, Spain and he will jet off to Mexico on 7 March when a month-long training camp at a lung busting altitude of nearly 2600 metres awaits.
Linke has been putting in as many 200 kilometres per week in training in a bid not only to claim his first major medal in Berlin but also in an effort to rewrite the record books. The German record has stood at 1:18:42 since 2000 and Linke just missed that record last year with 1:18:59.
Linke has said the course for the European Championships is not the fastest on the circuit but health and fitness permitting, he could take a tilt at the record on familiar territory at the European Athletics Race Walking Permit Meeting in Podebrady on 7 April.
“I need good weather - I just have to have the perfect day. If all this fits together, then I can get the German record. It's going to be difficult in Berlin, it's not the perfect track for me,” he said. “If the training camp in Mexico goes well, then I want to try to attack the German record in Podebrady, or at the World Cup in Taicang in China.”
Linke will undoubtedly be looking for another perfect day on the morning of 11 August, the date of the 20km race walk at the European Championships in Berlin.
More information on the 2018 European Championships:
- The Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships will be part of the first multi-sport European Championships along with co-hosts Glasgow.
- It will be a must-watch, must-attend experience that elevates the status of European Champions, uniting existing European Championships to celebrate the highest honour in European sport and celebrating the defining moments that create Champions.
- It is the continent’s ultimate multi-sport event, an 11-day celebration of European sport staged every four years.
- Seven of Europe’s leading sports (athletics, aquatics, rowing, golf, cycling, gymnastics, triathlon) will be brought together for the first edition.
- The European Athletics Championships in Berlin will be staged 7-12 August. The six other sports will be staged in Glasgow through 2-12 August.
- 4500 athletes and 52 nations will compete across the seven sports.
- Potential TV audience of over one billion with millions more across multiple digital platforms.
- Over half a million spectators expected.