May 4, 2014, TAICANG, CHINA (ISN) – A trio of Canadian race walkers dipped below the Canadian record in the men’s 20-kilometre race walk at the 2014 IAAF World Race Walking Cup in Taicang, China today.
Overall five athletes registered personal best performances, including a team best ever performance by the men, in the two-day event.
Evan Dunfee of Richmond, B.C., Inaki Gomez of Vancouver, B.C., and Ben Thorne of Kitimat, B.C., all dipped under the Canadian record time in the men’s 20-kilometre event. Dunfee finished 11th in 1:20:13, Inaki Gomez was 12th in 1:20:18 and Benjamin Thorne was 13th in 1:20:19. The previous Canadian record of 1:20:58 was held by Gomez and set at the 2012 Olympic Games.
Evan Dunfee on his race and Canadian record performance, “We couldn’t have asked for better conditions for a fast race. It feels great to have my first senior Canadian record; this is the result of the amazing hard work the team put in. I have no doubt that the three of us will be swapping the record back and forth for years to come.” Evan adds, “I’d also like to thank Gerry (Dragomir, personal and team head coach) for all his hard work with me over the past ten years.”
Inaki Gomez notes; “I’m extremely proud of this team. We came here with high expectations to finish in the top eight in the team event and we finished fourth by the narrowest of margin from a podium finish. What is even more incredible is having all three of us under the previous Canadian record by more than 40 seconds. Hats off to Evan who came here to prove that his winter training would pay off. He now leads our group as the top Canadian. All three of us have moved closer to medal positions in the individual event. We can now turn our focus on preparing for next year’s Pan Am Games and World Championships with the realistic goal of bringing some hardware home.”
Benjamin Thorne on his race, “I don’t know how I did that. I came into the event thinking that I was in the worst shape in recent memory. When we got out to the start line I was feeling negative but then they put on some dance music and the whole group started to clap to the beat. After that I just knew that I would be alright. I went out hard and just didn’t get tired. I’m thrilled with the big personal best and the excellent team finish. More to come.”
Bruno Carrière of Lachute, Que., also finished with a personal best in the men’s 20-kilometre race walk clocking in at 1:33:08. Creighton Connolly was disqualified.
The men’s team finished fourth overall, just one point off the podium, the best finish registered by a Canadian team ever at this event. “The success of this young men’s team is only the start of great things to come,” comments Team Leader Stafford Whalen. “This trio is only going to get faster and I mean a lot faster. All three are capable of future international podiums and as a team they can be a major threat to all contenders. Here’s to great future successes.”
One day earlier in the women’s 20-kilometre race walk Peterborough, Ontario’s Rachel Seaman registered a time of 1:31:14 for 31st place; her second best career time in the event. “This was my best performance at a major competition and my second best ever so I’m very proud of that”, comment’s Rachel after the race. “After having my daughter Isabella a year ago, I’m having my best season ever. I look forward to getting even stronger leading to Rio 2016.”
Nicole Evangelista of Vancouver, B.C., was 77th in 1:43:22; “It’s great to be back after a 14 month hiatus from competition for knee surgery. Today wasn’t my best result ever but it was a good stepping-stone for the future. I’m thankful to be back racing at this level again.”
Also of Vancouver, B.C., Katelynn Ramage set a personal best of 1:49:30 for 82nd. “Travelling to China to compete is a thrilling experience”, notes Katelynn. “Going into the competition it was definitely intimidating knowing that the best in the world would be here. Once the gun went off all of that faded quickly and I got down to business. My time today was a big personal best and the first time that I’ve negative split a long event.” She adds; “I’m taking away a wealth of knowledge to go along with the experience. I have been blessed with this opportunity and now I’m looking forward to even better competition at this level.”
“We might have been pushing our luck, traveling from Canada to China and competing on one day of rest, but the performances that we saw this weekend speaks volumes of the talent of this group of young athletes,” notes team Head Coach Gerry Dragomir. “Of the eight athletes on the team we had a national record, a best-ever team finish, four personal bests and one second best all-time. This was as focused and dedicated a group as I have ever coached. I look forward to working closely with this group over the next two and a half years leading to Rio, it can only get better as these athletes move toward their prime performance years.”