Reigning European champions Maria Perez and Alvaro Martin are two of the standout names on a strong Spanish team for the European Race Walking Team Championships in Podebrady, Czech Republic on 16 May.
Spain was the most successful nation at the last edition of this competition which took place two years ago under its previous alias of the European Race Walking Cup, winning eleven medals in total including gold medals in both the senior men’s and women’s 20km race walk events.
Perez and Martin were both part of those gold medal-winning teams in Alytus, Lithuania although neither of them finished with an individual medal. Perez could only manage a 14th-place finish in the women’s race while Martin was the second counter for Spain with a fifth-place finish in the men’s race.
From an individual standpoint, Perez is expected to improve substantially in the Czech spa town and the reigning European champion is one of the prospective title favourites with just over six weeks until the event. She warmed up for Podebrady with a commanding victory at the Spanish Championships in Murcia in 1:28:26, the fastest time by a European - excluding Russian walkers who haven’t been cleared to compete internationally - this year.
Perez strode out to victory by more than two minutes ahead of compatriots Raquel Gonzalez (1:30:47) and Laura Garcia-Caro (1:31:09), the individual bronze and silver medallists from Alytus two years ago when they spearheaded Spain to the team title.
Both Gonzalez and Garcia-Caro have been named on the Spanish team for Alytus along with Julia Takacs who steps back down to the 20km race walk after winning an individual silver in the 50km race walk two years ago.
Martin was the third Spaniard home in Murcia earlier this month in 1:20:59, beaten by European silver medallist Diego Garcia (1:19:40) and Luis Alberto Amezcua (1:19:54). All three race walkers will be on Spanish team duties in Podebrady along with former world and European champion Miguel Angel Lopez, the elder statesman of the team at the age of 32.
This same quartet competed for Spain two years ago when they romped to the team title with Garcia, Martin and Lopez finishing third, fifth and sixth respectively as their three scoring counters.
Spain will also be sending teams to compete in the women's 35km and men's 50km race walk events as well as both the men's and women's U20 10km races. More details about the Spanish team for Podebrady can be found here.