Universiade (athletics): Men’s race walkers claim first Canadian medal


KAZAN, Russia (Team Canada) – Canada claimed its firstmedal at the 27th Summer Universiade on Tuesday morningcourtesy of a trio of race walkers from British Columbia.

Team Canada website:http://english.cis-sic.ca/universiade/summer/2013

Team Canada Twitter: @CDNUniversiade |#gocanada

Summer Universiade website:www.kazan2013.com/en

Inaki Gomez of Vancouver, Ben Thorne of Kitimat and Evan Dunfeeof Richmond took third place in the 20-kilometre team competition.Their combined time of four hours, 20 minutes and 35 seconds(4:20:35) left them behind only Russia (4:04:31) and Ukraine(4:08:09).

Gomez, a 2012 Olympian, was the first Canadian to cross thefinish line in a time of 1:22:29, which was good for fifth positionin the individual standings. He had also placed fifth in the eventat the 2011 FISU Games in Shenzhen, China.

Thorne was 16th in a personal best 1:26:59, whileDunfee was 21st in 1:31:07.

Russia’s Andrey Krivov won individual gold thanks to aUniversiade record time of 1:20:47. He was followed at the line byRusian Dmytrenko of Ukraine (1:20:54) and Russian teammate DenisStrelkov (1:21:32).

The medal ceremony is set for 5:45 p.m. local time (9:45 a.m.ET).

“It’s an honour to win Canada’s first medal inKazan,” said Gomez, who competed for the University ofBritish Columbia until 2010 and now attends law school at theUniversity of Calgary. “The team event is neat because itadds a whole other dynamic to the competition.

“This was a very strong field, lots of Olympians,including Krivov and Dmytrenko,” added Gomez, who was13th in the event last summer in London with a time of1:20.58. “I was four minutes faster today than inShenzhen.”

All three Canadians were aiming for top-10 finishes individuallybut Thorne and Dunfee, both UBC students, had to slow their paceafter committing two fouls in the first half of the race.

“After I received my second card midway through the race Iknew I had to shut it down for the team,” Thorne said.“We only had the minimum of three athletes while Russia hadfive, and Ukraine and China had four apiece. So I knew if I got athird card, that was the end not only of my race but also of ourmedal hopes as a team.”

Like his teammates, Dunfee was happy with the medal but alsocalled the result bittersweet.

“It’s great to win a medal but right now it’shard for me to truly appreciate it because I’m prettydisappointed with my individual result,” said Dunfee, whoalso earned his second caution near the midway point of the race.“I felt so good today, possibly the best I’ve ever feltat the 10km mark. But like Ben, I knew I had to shut it down forthe team.”

The trio will be back in Russia next month for the IAAF worldathletics championships in Moscow (August 10-18). Gomez and Thornewill compete in the 20km, while Dunfee qualified for the 50kmevent.

Canada had won three Universiade medals in race walking in thepast. Guillaume Leblanc claimed gold in the 20km in 1983 inEdmonton and bronze in the same event in 1985 in Kobe, Japan, whileAnn Peel captured bronze in the 5km in 1987 in Zagreb,Yugoslavia.


2013 (Kazan, Russia): Inaki Gomez, Ben Thorne & Evan Dunfee,bronze, 20km team

1987 (Zagreb, Yugoslavia): Ann Peel, bronze, 5km

1985 (Kobe, Japan): Guillaume Leblanc, bronze, 20km

1983 (Edmonton, Canada): Guillaume Leblanc, gold, 20km

Scott Harrigan
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