Events & Meetings

Afanasyeva sparks Russian glory


Russia had three reasons to celebrate less than an hour into the opening morning of the European Athletics Junior Championships in Eskilstuna today as Klavdiya Afanasyeva led a cleansweep in the women's 10,000m walk.

Afanasyeva produced the fastest junior time in the world this year as she won in 43:36.88 from Olga Shargina, the World Youth champion, second in a personal best of 44:01.08, and Mariya Losinova, third in 44:07.44.

On a chilly morning in Sweden, but one that was perfectly suited for track race walking - just a slight breeze drifted across the Ekängen Arena which had no effect on conditions - Afanasyeva, 19, showed her powerful talent by winning by this impressive margin of more than 23 seconds.

It is her second big title of 2015 having beaten Losinova, 18, to gold in the 10km race at the European Cup Race Walking in Murcia in May, and at the finish Afanasyeva only had thoughts for her teammates.

As she crossed the line, she stopped just for a second, put her hands to her head in elation but then waited for Shargina, who had been disqualified in Murcia, and Losinova to make it home before the trio formed a group hug to share their morning glory.

'I am very happy,' said Afanasyeva. 'I didn't expect to go this fast. It is great to have three Russian medals and the tactics went well.'

Shargina said: 'It was a great experience for me and I am happy with second. This was an important result because of being disqualified in the last race in May.'

Losinova was equally delighted and said: 'I have trained hard for this event.'

A race where Finland's Taika Nummi had the early lead - she finished sixth in 45:44.53 - the pattern for the outcome of it being Russia's day was quickly established and by 1000m Losinova led in 4:41.2 from Tereza Korvasova, of the Czech Republic, in 4:41.6 and Spain's Maria Perez, in 4.41.8.

Afanasyeva was biding her time, there was no rush, and slowly she moved her way through the 26-strong field.

One of the eye-catching traits which brings so much to Afanasyeva's ability is her powerful shoulder movement, which radiates throughout her body and brings a slick momentum. Once in her stride, she was always the likely winner from a long way out.

Though for a great deal of the race she was sat just behind Losinova as, along with Perez, the trio moved ahead of the rest with Shargina poised behind.

Losinova led at every checkpoint up to 7000m but that was the moment Afanasyeva chose to accelerate.

She did with a bolt that might be recognised in a middle-distance race, a spurt of race-walking pace that Losinova could not match.

With six laps left, Perez, who had finished third behind Afanasyeva and Losinova in Murcia, moved into second, but the positions were far from over.

At the 8400m mark, Shargina chose the perfect moment to make her mark as she moved past Perez into third and it was not long before she had overtaken Losinova.

But the gap to Afanasyeva was too much to make up and it was not long before the first champion of Eskilstuna was being crowned.

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