On a cold and rainy day in the historical Czech spar town of Podebrady, conditions proved just perfect for Sweden´s Perseus Karlstrom on Sunday.
Taking almost two seconds off a personal best time he had set only in February, Karlstrom produced a brilliant performance to win the men’s 20km at the 84th Podebrady walking meet.
Karlstrom triumphed in 1:19:11, replacing his old mark of 1:21:03, as he beat Germany’s Christopher Linke by eight seconds in a high-class field at this European Athletics Race Walking Permit meeting which saw Columbia’s 2011 world champion Luis Fernando Lopez back in 17th (1:21:32).
There was a succession of personal best times, with Germany’s Hagen Pohle in sixth (1:19:58) while in 10th, Anton Kucmin (1:20:43) also won the Slovak title. In 21st, Turkey’s Ersin Tacir broke the national record of 1:22:31 with his time of 1:22:19.
Victory is a big step for Karlstrom, 25, who was 17th (1:24:41) at the European Athletics Championships in Zurich in 2014 and will head into a busy summer having broken another important barrier by dipping under 1:20.
As Mexico’s Alejandra Ortega won the women’s race in a course record and personal best (1:29:35), Polish walkers battled for second and third.
In the end Paulina Buziak (1:30:36) edged out teammate Agnieszka Szwarnog (1:30:50) for the silver medal position as Slovakia’s Maria Galikova won the national title in a national record time (1:30:53) as she finished fourth.
The junior races were dominated by European athletes.
In the men’s under-20 10km walk, Great Britain’s Callum Wilkinson (41:33) triumphed from Italy’s Giacomo Brandi (41:44) and Latvia’s Arturs Makars (42:02) in a race where all but four of the 47 finishes achieved their personal best.
As impressive was the junior women’s race where the top 10 all had their best time, as Finland landed a one-two, with Taika Nummi (45:49) winning from Enni Nurmi (47:05). Giada Francesca Ciabini (47:20), of Italy, was third.