Garcia starts her title defence year on the right foot

"VAN" (Sports Desk - 27.03.2023) :: When Kimberly Garcia opened her 2022 campaign, it offered little insight as to what the rest of the year had in store.

Her runner-up finish at the South American Race Walking Championships in Lima last year was a solid enough performance, but she was also nowhere near her peak at that stage.

Sure enough, as the season progressed, so too did the Peruvian race walker.

She made it on to the podium at the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships in Muscat, then won in Rio Maior, and followed it three weeks later with a 20km national record in La Coruna.

By the time she reached the World Athletics Championships Oregon22, Garcia was in the form of her life. Within the space of one week, she claimed gold medals in the 20km and 35km events, and instantly became a sporting icon in her home country, as well as announcing her arrival as the world’s best race walker.

Nine months on from her ground-breaking achievement on the streets of Eugene, Garcia returned to action at the Dudinska 50 – the first World Athletics Race Walking Tour Gold meeting of 2023.

This time, the eyes of the race walking world were fixed on Garcia. This time, she lived up to – and exceeded – all expectations in her first outing of the year.

The 29-year-old made an early break from the rest of the pack in the women’s 35km. Despite it being just her third ever outing over the distance, Garcia judged her effort to perfection. Her pace only dipped slightly during the third 10-kilometre section, but she pulled it back in the final few kilometres and went on to finish in a world record of 2:37:44*.

“I knew I was in good shape and that I could challenge the world record,” said Garcia. “The first 20km was ok and at a good pace, then I started to tire and the wind got stronger. Thankfully I found some extra energy for the final five kilometres.

“It's a big thing for me to achieve this record,” added Garcia, who also confirmed she will defend both of her titles at this year's World Championships. "I still think I can go faster, maybe at the World Championships. I'm not planning any more 35km races before Budapest.”


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