Walking into the record books
Britain’s Tom Bosworth, sixth in last year’s 20k race walk at the Rio Olympics, will be amongst the favourites and will be hoping to use the home support to his advantage. Bosworth is in scintillating form having qualified for the IAAF World Championships in 84:58 over the 20k distance at the RWA Championships in Leeds last month. He followed that up by smashing the British 5k record at the British Championships last Sunday winning in 18:43.28.
A delighted Bosworth said after the race, “No Brit has ever gone inside 19 minutes, so to get two in one race is pretty special going into London [World Championships]. I’ve felt a lot of pressure this year to back up my result from Rio, so to go 17 seconds quicker than I did last year is really exciting.”
Now he can’t wait to race in the London Stadium at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, saying, “This is real evidence of how far race walking has come – that we can put this on in the biggest stadium in the country in one of the biggest non-championships events. I am so pleased it is in the programme as it means in the future race walkers will not have to face some of the stigma and challenges that I have faced.
“I’d love to go there and break the UK record, even the world record. The crowd will be key. They give me the adrenaline and it is such an unreal feeling when you cross the line and see the clock and you have broken a record. The crowd really do play a part in that – it really adds much more to a performance. But mostly I am just looking forward to the atmosphere and the crowd. I want to put on a really good performance. It will be my first experience of a Diamond League event – it will be a very special day.”
Another British hope on Sunday is World Junior Champion, Callum Wilkinson, who finished just behind Bosworth in the British Trials, in 18:56.96, a time inside the previous British record. Second in the RWA Championships, 20-year old Wilkinson has also qualified for the IAAF World Championships so is looking forward to the opportunity to race in London. He said, “It is going to be amazing - for us race walkers we do not get so many opportunities so I am so excited to be going into a packed crowd for a competitive race.
“And I am looking forward to the World Champs; I can’t wait to give my all in front of the home supporters. I think it will be a World Champs like never before with the British public getting behind the athletes. It is going to be so loud.”
In Sunday’s one mile showdown, eighth in the world for the 20k race walk, Sweden’s Perseus Karlstrom will be amongst the favourites, while 50k specialists, Ireland’s Robert Heffernan and Briton’s Dom King will be looking to sharpen their speed over the shorter mile distance.