Diniz almost claims back his world record in Lugano

Diniz almost claims back his world record in Lugano
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France's Yohann Diniz continued his strong form by winning over 20km at the European Athletics Race Walking Permit Meeting in Lugano on Sunday.

Just a few hours after losing the 20km race walk world record he set just a week ago, Yohann Diniz failed in his bid to claim it back when he came up just a little short at the famous Lugano race walking meeting - the 13th Memorial Mario Albisetti - clocking 1:17:24 at the European Athletics Race Walking Permit Meeting on Sunday.

In what was effectively a time trial, the 2014 European Athletics Championships 50km gold medallist - who also set a world record over the distance when winning in Zurich last summer - quickly took the lead and was never headed, becoming the first French walker of either gender to win a senior race in Lugano.

After passing halfway in 38:20, he was on world record pace all the way to 16km but slowed slightly over the final four kilometres and came up 48 seconds short of the time posted by Japan's Yusuke Suzuki on home soil on the other side of the world in Nomi earlier in the day.

He was also just shy of his own European, and now former world, record of 1:17:02 set in Arles exactly a week ago.

However, Diniz got some minor consolation in that it was still one of the best 20km times on record, the sixth fastest record-legal performance ever and a course record.

No one else has also put together two sub 1:17:30 performances in their career, let alone two in the space of eight days.

“I could have walked faster if I had some help during the race but I’m still pleased to have got the meeting record,” said Diniz, who confirmed that he intends to race over both the 20km and 50km distances at the IAAF World Championships this summer.

European walkers filled all three slots on the podium in an enthralling women’s 20km race.

Anezka Drahotova won and went close to her Czech record when crossing the line in 1:28:52, going clear early in the race and passing the halfway point 25 seconds ahead of the rest of the field in 44:31.

Still only 19, the reigning European and world junior champion over 10,000m on the track was just 44 seconds outside her own national record set when taking the bronze medal in Zurich last summer.

Portugal’s experienced international Vera Santos came through strongly in the final couple of kilometres to take second place in 1:30:23 with Polish record holder Agnieszka Dygacz, fourth in 2014, finishing third this time in 1:30:38.

The second of the two 2015 European Athletics Race Walking Permit Meetings is the well-known Podebrady meeting, which will be staged in the Czech spa town on 11 April.

This year’s two Permit Meetings set the stage for the 11th European Cup Race Walking in Murcia, Spain, on 17 May.