Milan Urban – athletic expert about the recent race walk

15. 5. 2017

Statistics is not a boring science for Milan Urban. You would hardly find someone who knows more about athletics than this prominent Czech statistician. He will tell you more about this sport and reveals interesting facts.

Within the framework of your job, you follow also the history and the recent time of this sport. Who do you consider personally the best race walker of all times?

There could be more names mentioned but if we do not want to go too far into the history, the most significant personality of this sport for me is the Polish race walker Robert Korzeniowski. He won the Olympic 50k three times in a row (1996-2004) and in 2000 also the 20k in Sydney. When we also count the three world golds and two European golds, he is the legend for sure.

Where the recent race walk is heading? Do you think there is still enough space for the new world records?

I think we miss more education and awareness in this field. It is difficult. We need to understand that the race walk events are very long for the spectator. It is hard to keep standing 4 hours along the track and watch the 50k race. It is easier at the stadium, when you can watch also the other events at the same time. But at the race walk events, there are usually mostly the race walk fans and friends. Normal spectator usually does not sta for all the time. The records are still breakable. The recent times are from 2014 – 2016 so they are not too old.

What do you think about the discussed rule "one foot on the ground", which are not 100% possible to keep?

Well, this is already sorted out in the rules: Foot must appear to be in contact with the ground at all times. The loose of the touch cannot be visible for the regular viewer. And as the racers are getting faster, the second rule becomes more important: The front leg must straighten when it makes contact with the ground.

Who do you recommend to watch at the European Cup in Poděbrady?

In fact, there are five events in Poděbrady so I will comment it step by step. 20 km men – the main favourite is Christopher Linke of Germany who already won this year´s „Poděbrady" in April. He also competes here quite often so he knows the track well. The next big star is the 50K Olympic champion from Rio 2016 Matej Tóth of Slovakia and Sergej Shirobokov of Russia, who will however start under EA flag (ANA - Authorised Neutral Athlete). He tops the recent European rankings of the year.

50 km men – Without Polis athletes and nor the Haukens of Norway, there is nobody with the PB under 4 hours. The race will be open and the big chance will come to the walkers from Spain.

20 km women – Virbalyté-Dimšiené and Živilé Vaiciukevičiuté are the main favourites (3rd from Poděbrady meeting) of Lithuania, or any Spanish athletes. In junior categories at 10km – the top 3 from April´s Poděbrada, German Köpp, French Kuster and Niedzialek of Poland. Girls at 10km – the leader is the Turkish Bekmez of Turkey and Tereza Zurek of Germany(with the Czech roots).

What is your strongest race walk competition memory?

The answer is clear. It was the 1997 World Cup in Poděbrady. When I remember the 50km competition, when there was terrible weather with rain, sun, fog, snow during the race, I really had to admire those competitors.

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