The final entries for the Alytus 2019 European Race Walking Cup on 19 May are now available and can be found under Related Documents and here.
A total of 256 athletes - 139 men and 117 women - from 29 countries (including Authorised Neutral Athletes) have been registered for this year’s edition which is the first to achieve full parity. The programme includes a women’s 50km race walk for the first time and it features reigning world and European champion and ex-world record-holder Ines Henriques from Portugal.
Henriques has been one of the pioneers in the nascent history of the event but the standards are improving rapidly - the world record now stands at 3:59:15 - with more race walkers attempting the distance.
One notable debutante in Alytus will be Italy’s Eleonora Giorgi who has prepared for an assault on the distance by taking part in a 35km race walk event in January, covering the distance in 2:45:21. She then sharpened up for Alytus with a commanding victory in the 20km race walk in Podebrady where she broke the tape in a European-leading time of 1:27:46.
Despite Giorgi's absence, there will still be high hopes for Italy in the women’s 20km race walk as Antonella Palmisano defends her title. Palmisano won by nearly two minutes at the 2017 European Race Walking Cup in Podebrady but Spain’s Maria Perez will be keen to add this accolade to her European title from the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships.
The men’s 20km race walk is arguably the highest quality event on the programme with the top eight from Berlin 2018 - including the Spanish triumvirate of Alvaro Martin, Diego Garcia and Miguel Angel Lopez - all on the start-line along with reigning champion Christopher Linke from Germany.
Ukraine’s Ivan Banzeruk will also be defending his individual title and team honours in the men’s 50km race walk although their collective prospects are weakened by the absence of Berlin 2018 champion Maryan Zakalnytskyy.
And his individual prospects will be put to the test by world record-holder Yohann Diniz from France who will contest the distance for the first time since winning the IAAF World Championships in London nearly two years ago. Diniz missed out on a chance of winning a fourth successive European title in Berlin due to injury but the 41-year-old will return to international action next weekend.
And a special mention goes to Spain’s Jesus Angel Garcia, eight years the Frenchman’s senior at 49 years old. Garcia won the inaugural European Race Walking Cup title in 1996 and has qualified for yet another Spanish team by virtue of a third-place finish at his domestic championships.