The idyllic Czech spa town of Podebrady will be playing host to this year’s edition of the European Race Walking Team Championships, previously known as the European Race Walking Cup, on 16 May which has attracted interest from more than 250 race walkers representing 26 countries.
For the vast majority of prospective competitors, Podebrady will be familiar territory as the town hosted the 2017 edition of the biennial competition which was held under its previous alias of the European Race Walking Cup. And for any newcomers to Podebrady, this might not be their only excursion either as the event returns to Podebrady in both 2023 and 2025.
The roots of race walking in Podebrady date as far back as the nineteenth century and the town remains a lucrative fixture on the international circuit. The annual race walking gala is a European Athletics Race Walking Permit Meeting and this year’s event will be held in conjunction with the European Race Walking Team Championships.
Last year’s event, which was moved from its traditional springtime slot to the autumn owing to the coronavirus pandemic, was won by Sweden’s Perseus Karlstrom and Italy’s Antonella Palmisano, both of whom will be looking to extend their excellent records at the European Race Walking Team Championships.
After winning bronze in Podebrady four years ago, Karlstrom confidently strode to the individual title in the 20km race walk in Alytus, Lithuania in 2019 and recent form suggests the Swede is well placed to successfully defend his individual title in Podebrady next month.
Competing as a guest at the Spanish Championships in Murcia last month, Karlstrom marched to a dominant victory in 1:18:45 ahead of a strong Spanish contingent who won the team title in Alytus two years ago. Karlstrom won by almost one minute from European silver medallist Diego Carrera Garcia who will spearhead the Spanish team in Podebrady.
Karlstrom is currently the joint second fastest race walker in Europe this year, only three seconds behind Turkey’s improving Salih Korkmaz who leads the 2021 European list with a national record of 1:18:42. Russia’s Vasiliy Mizinov has also clocked 1:18:45 this year although he is yet to receive clearance to compete internationally as a neutral athlete.
Palmisano won her individual title on this very course in Podebrady four years ago when she memorably brandished a ‘Forza Antonella’ flag as she crossed the finish-line but her title defence in Alytus ended in tears as she dropped out mid-race with illness.
Like Karlstrom, Palmisano will face a strong Spanish contingent in the 20km race walk including reigning European champion Maria Perez who leads the 2021 European list with 1:28:26 along with Laura Garcia-Caro and Raquel Gonzalez who won individual silver and bronze medals two years ago and led Spain to the team title.
As well as men’s and women’s 10km races for U20 athletes, the programme also includes the men’s 50km race walk as well as the newly introduced women’s 35km race walk. The latter event is due to feature Eleonora Giorgi who won the 50km race walk in Alytus two years ago in a European record of 4:04:50.
The men's 50km race walk will be graced by the venerable and indefitagable Jesus Angel Garcia who will almost certainly be the oldest participant competing in Podebrady at the age of 51. Garcia won the inaugural edition of the European Race Walking Cup in 1996 before subsequent victories in 2000 and 2001. A good showing in Podebrady will put Garcia in the fray to represent Spain at a potentially record-breaking eighth successive Olympic Games in Tokyo later this summer.
Media wishing to cover the European Race Walking Team Championships can apply for accreditation by downloading and filling out this form.