Maria Perez won the women’s 20-kilometer race walk at the World Athletics Championships today, easily defeating Australia’s Jemima Montag. Antonella Palmisano of Italy took third place. Maria Perez thus completed a Spanish double.
At the halfway point, Yang Jiayu of China, the winner from 2017 and current world record holder, Perez, Montag, Olympic champion Palmisano, and the defending champion Kimberly Garcia Leon of Peru led a breakaway group.
But Perez drew away with around 5 kilometers to go and finished the race in an hour, 26 minutes, and 51 seconds, much like his countryman Alvaro Martin did in the men’s event on the first day of the championships yesterday.
The 27-year-old won the competition at the world championships ahead of Montag by 25 seconds and became the first Spanish woman to do it.
“I cannot even put into words how important it was to me to win this gold,” Perez, the 35km world record holder, said. “Victory in this distance was my main goal for Budapest … I put all my power into this race.”
Perez placed fourth at the Tokyo Games despite being disqualified from the 20km walk at both the European Championships in 2022 and the World Championships last year.
“The 20km was always difficult for me as I had technical issues and was often disqualified,” Perez said. “This last lap was extremely fast, but I had to give my maximum … I got a hamstring cramp.
“Now I need some consultations and medical examination from our doctors whether it will be possible for me to compete at 35km.”
With a time of 1:27:16, Montag broke her own personal best, moving up from her fourth-place performance at the Eugene, Oregon, 2022 world championships.
In order to place third, Palmisano ran a season-best 1:27:26. Garcia Leon slipped behind the leaders and finished fourth, finishing a further six seconds behind Palmisano.
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