Reigning world bronze medallist Perseus Karlstrom made a winning return to competition at the 46th International Race Walking Festival in Alytus on Friday (18) afternoon, the first of three European Athletics Race Walking Permit Meetings due to take place before the end of October.
Karlstrom was the only race walker to achieve the Olympic qualifying standard in the men’s 20km race walk, ducking under the qualifying time by two seconds with his winning time of 1:20:58.
“My goal was to have a good race and go for the victory. I didn’t have a specific time in mind. It’s been a really strange year and it’s good to have at least one race before winter training,” said Karlstrom.
Karlstrom might have expected a close race from Germany’s Christophe Linke but he was a late withdrawal from this fixture. Instead the Swede, despite easing back on the last circuit, still amassed a comfortable winning margin of 12 seconds from Ukrainians Ivan Losev (1:21:10) and Nazar Kovalenko (1:21:12) with Brit Callum Wilkinson fourth in a lifetime best of 1:21:21.
“It’s really hard to say who is in shape and who isn’t in shape,” said Karlstrom. “Obviously I knew I was in pretty good shape even though I wasn’t even able to train that well in the summer due to various issues with my body but I am satisfied with my result.”
Yesterday’s performance marked Karlstrom’s second notable win in Alytus in eighteen months after winning the European Race Walking Cup on the same loop last May before going on to win bronze at the World Athletics Championships in Doha.
His thoughts have already turned to winter training in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics but Karlstrom might compete next month in Podebrady, the second Race Walking Permit Meeting of the season on 10 October.
In the women’s race there was home success for Brigita Virbalyte-Dimsiene who, like Karlstrom, is also coached by Australian coach Brent Vallance.
Now 35, Virbalyte-Dimsiene walked to a clear cut victory in 1:30:54 to seal the Olympic qualifying standard and win by almost three minutes from Viktoria Madarasz from Hungary in 1:33:41.
Full results here.