European champions Martin and Perez head strong Spanish team for Alytus

Alvaro Martin
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Alvaro Martin led a one-two for Spain in the 20km race walk at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships

Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships 20km race walk gold medallists Alvaro Martin and Maria Perez will head a very strong Spanish team that will contest the European Athletics Race Walking Cup in Alytus, Lithuania on 19 May.

Martin, now 24, had his first outing since his triumph in the German capital in the Spanish championships last weekend but could only finish seventh in the wake of surgery on his left knee in January.

“The doctors haven’t completely signed off on me yet but I’ve had three weeks training without any problems and I’m gradually building up to do well later in the year at the big international meetings,” commented Martin last weekend.

He will be joined on the start line of the men’s 20km in Alytus by Berlin 2018 silver medallist Diego Garcia and former European and world champion Miguel Angel Lopez, who also won the Cup race in 2015 and took silver in 2013 and 2017.

 

Lopez, who was sixth in Berlin, was an impressive winner of the Spanish title in Oropesa del Mar on Sunday, winning in 1:21:21 and crossing the line exactly two minutes ahead of second-placed Garcia.

With the 20km quartet completed by Alberto Amezcua, Spain will be favourites to defend their Cup team title in this category that they won two years ago in the Czech town of Podebrady.

In the women’s 20km event, the 22-year-old Perez – who, like Lopez, also won the Spanish title last weekend – will have among her team mates Laura García-Caro, who was third in the last edition of the Cup two years ago and sixth in Berlin, as well as Lidia Sánchez-Puebla and Spanish 50km record holder Raquel González.

Maria Perez winning the 20km race walk at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships
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Maria Perez winning the 20km race walk at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships

“I’m not at my top level yet, maybe 80%, but I can feel the spark is there,” reflected Perez after winning her second domestic crown, crossing the line in 1:30:55 and winning by 45 seconds from Gonzalez. 

The names in the men’s 50km include the evergreen 49-year-old former world champion Jesus Angel Garcia Bragado who is a three-time winner in the Cup (1996, 2000 and 2001) and who also has two silver medals to his name.

Benjamín Sanchez, José Ignacio Diaz and the reigning national champion Marc Tur complete the Spanish quartet in the men’s 50km.

In the women’s 50km, the event making its debut in the Cup, Berlin 2018 bronze medallist Julia Takacs heads the Spanish team with Ainhoa ​​Pinedo, Maria Larios and Mar Juarez accompanying her.