Italy's Alex Schwazer will start among the favourites
at the European Athletics Race Walking Permit
Meeting in Dudince on Saturday.
The focus of attention at the 31st Dudinska Patdesiatka will be its famous 50km race which this year will see Italy's 2008 Olympic 50km walk gold medallist Alex Schwazer on the start line.
Schwazer has not finished a 50km race since 2010, having not competed over the distance last year after a skiing accident curtailed his endurance training in the early part of 2011, and so is looking to go below the Olympic A-standard of 3:59:00 in order to assure that he will be able to defend his title in London this summer.
He has already shown he is in great shape by reducing his own Italian 20km walk record by almost a minute less than a week ago when he clocked 1:17:30 in Lugano last Sunday, the first of the 2012 European Athletics Race Walking Permit Meetings.
It was the sixth best performance ever and only 14 seconds shy of the ratified world record of Russia's Viktor Kanaykin.
The Slovak hosts are hoping that Schwazer will tow their three top men - Milos Batovsky, Anton Kucmin, Dusan Majdan - under the Olympic A-standard as well.
However, the Italian has admitted that after his feat by the Lugano lakeside last Sunday that he is unlikely to make a serious attempt on the impressive Dudince course record of 3:38:45, which was set by France's 2006 and 2010 European Athletics Championships 50km gold medallist Yohann Diniz in 2009.
Schwazer is the star name among 110 walkers who have entered for the 50km race, which will also act as the national championships for Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.
However, the men's 20km event contains some equally illustrious walkers including Diniz, who set a French national record of 1:17:43 when finishing immediately behind Schwazer in Lugano, and local star Matej Toth, the 2010 Race Walking World Cup 50km winner.
Both men looking to sharpen up over the shorter championship distance ahead of this summer's Olympic Games.
The Dudince races will be conducted over a new 1km loop in the city centre, a circuit that has been devised with the assistance of Toth, and will also act as a test event for the 2013 European Cup Race Walking, which will be staged in the town on 19 May next year.
Details of all the 2012 European Athletics Race Walking Permit Meetings can be found here: