Germany’s Christopher Linke and Italy’s Eleonora Giorgi will defend their 20km race walk titles at the Podebrady Walking 2018, a European Athletics Race Walking Permit Meeting, on Saturday (6).
Linke undoubtedly has fond memories of his past visits to the Czech spa town having taken victories in this event in 2015, 2017 and 2018. He also won the European Race Walking Cup in Podebrady two years ago and this will be an important competition ahead of his title defence in Alytus, Lithuania on 19 May.
The leading Spaniards will be absent from Podebrady but the three-time reigning champion will face strong opposition from neutral athlete Vasiliy Mizinov who won bronze in the 20km race walk at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships.
Mizinov and Linke are very evenly matched at their respective peaks with the Russian the fastest entrant on paper with 1:18:32 to Linke’s 1:18:59 which he set for victory in this race in 2017.
The line-up also features two other top-10 finishers from the European Championships in Berlin: France’s Kevin Campion and Ireland’s Alex Wright who finished ninth and tenth respectively in the German capital last August.
Giorgi will also be defending her title in Podebrady ahead of the European Race Walking Cup next month where she is poised to contest the 50km race walk for the first time.
Giorgi won last year in 1:28:49 ahead of home favourite Anezka Drahotova who finished third but the Czech progressed throughout the season, winning a silver medal in the 20km race walk at the European Championships in Berlin.
Other leading entrants include Guatemala’s Mirna Ortiz and Lithuanian twins Monika and Zivile Vaiciukeviciute who will be looking to perform well with their home championships in Alytus only seven weeks away.