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Australia’s great recent race walking history

Sunday, 4 February 2018 | David Tarbotton



What event group has been Australia’s most successful over the last two decades? Hurdles…jumps… have been strong, but the answer is race walking. In the competitive world of global athletics where over 200 countries contest an Olympics or world championships, where Australia is held to a few medals at each championship, it is astounding to consider Australia has won 11 medals over the last 13 years.

Australia has completely dominated at the Commonwealth Games winning 26 medals at the last six Commonwealth Games where walks have been contested (1990-2010). At the Melbourne 2006 Games, they claimed eight of the nine medals on offer, including two medals sweeps in the women’s and men’s 20km walk events.

The journey to the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games for the Australian race walking hopefuls starts next Sunday in Adelaide where the Australian 20km Race Walking Championships and Commonwealth Games trial will be held. 

Australian race walking has produced four of Australia’s greatest athletes: Nathan Deakes, Jane Saville, Kerry Saxby-Junna and Jared Tallent.

Ballina’s Kerry Saxby-Junna was a pioneer in world race walking, setting 26 world record or bests in an international career that spanned 1985 to 2001. She was a medallist at the first world championship race walking event in 1987 in Rome. She won three consecutive medals at the early World Indoor championships. A three time-Olympian, she won the 1990 and 1994 Commonwealth Games titles.

Nathan Deakes is a Commonwealth Games race walking legend. Winning the 20km/50km double twice, in Manchester 2002 and Melbourne 2006. During his international career which spanned 1996 to 2012, he won a world title (2007), and Olympic medal (2004) and set the world 50km walk record in 2006.

A three-time Commonwealth Games gold medalist, Jane Saville, also won an Olympic bronze medal in 2004. She was bestowed the honour of carrying the flag at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

Jared Tallent is the most successful male athlete in Australian history. Four medals at three consecutive Olympics, the same at world championships, three consecutive medals, totaling seven at global meets. Two Commonwealth Games medals, including gold in Delhi, making him the reigning champion. Let’s hope he has a chance to defend his title on the Gold Coast.

With the return of race walking to the Commonwealth Games program this year, Australia’s will have an opportunity to extend this amazing successful, although it is noteworthy that Canada, New Zealand, India, England and Wales has been on the improved over the last five years.

Find out more about next Sunday’s 2018 Oceania & Australian 20km Race Walking Championships on the event page, here.


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