In a race where there was heavy rain for the first half and in temperatures of around 10°, Italy’s Antonella Palmisano defied the elements for a superb 20km triumph at the 42nd International Walking Meeting in Alytus on Friday.
And with her triumph, Palmisano sets herself up for an Olympic bid having made her mark by finishing fifth in last summer’s IAAF World Championships in Beijing.
Palmisano won in 1:30:11 at this European Athletics Race Walking Area Permit meeting, a victory of 41 seconds from Maritza Poncio, of Guatemala, and Greece’s Antigoni Drisbioti (1:30:56) followed by Italy’s Valentina Trapletti (1:31:28). The trio behind Palmisano all recorded a personal bests with Lithuania’s Brigita Virbalyte (1:31:34), who was seventh in Beijing, fifth this time in front of her home crowd.
Palmisano, who will be 25 on the second day of the Olympics, will be in Rio as one of Europe’s leading hopes in a career where her progression has taken her from 10km gold in 2010 in the junior race at the World Race Walking Cup in Chihuahua to a leading senior.
Here in Alytus. the European under-23 silver and bronze medallist broke away in the final five kilometres and her rivals had no response.
The men’s 20km race was slightly closer with Poland landing a one-two as Dawid Tomala (1:21:50), the 2011 European Athletics under-23 champion, beating teammate Artur Brzozowski (1:22:11, a pb) with Italian Federico Tontodonati in third (1:22:29).
The junior 10km title also went the way of Poland as Kacper Kosecki won in 43:29.