Seven years ago, it was for being disqualified 8 miles into the London Olympic women’s 20-kilometer race walk. On Saturday, the Australian was “overwhelmed” for happier reasons.
In covering 50 kilometers in 4 hours, 12 minutes and 44 seconds, Tallent survived “brutal” conditions to win Santee’s latest world-class walk event.
But this time, her cry was of defiance — with a plea to the International Olympic Committee.
“People that say that the women’s 50K isn’t deserving to be an Olympic event — it’s just not true,” she said after averaging 8:09 a mile for 31.1 miles. “I beat all these guys today. I was second across the line.”
Only David Velasquez of Ecuador, who also won a $2,000 first-place prize in the Waterbridge Capital International 50km Challenge, had a better mark: 4:08:32 (8-minute mile pace).
Although she easily beat the 4:30 qualifying standard for the IAAF World Athletics Championships this September in Doha, Qatar, the 37-year-old Tallent also hopes to race the 50K at the 2020 Tokyo Games.
That’s not yet official. Track and field’s world governing body, the IAAF, has recommended adding the 50K women’s eventto the Olympic program. But the IOC hasn’t OK’d it. A decision is expected in March.
“Women can do it,” Tallent said as event DJ Lennie Howell of Ramona played The Human League’s 1981 hit “Don’t you want me (baby).”
Tallent decried discrimination in the event — with men having long contested the 20K and 50K walks in the Games but women having done only 10K or 20k since 1992.
“You can’t tell me that I’m any less deserving than my husband for having a shot at Olympic glory,” she said. “It’s just absurd.”
Tallent has been married 10 years to Jared Tallent, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist in the 50K who also has two silvers and a bronze in his three Games.
Asked why she “switched” last year from the 20K to the 50K, Tallent balked at the premise.
“It wasn’t a switch — it was never the opportunity,” she said. “To make an Olympic team, you had to be a 20K walker. And I think, deep down, I was always a 50K walker.”
“Should the women’s 50K be added, I’ll be the first woman to ever qualify,” she said. “It means so, so much.”
Just missing the 4:30 women’s standard for the IAAF Doha world meet was Robyn Stevens, a 35-year-old model and costume designer from Mountain View.
The results show Stevens won the U.S. women’s title (and $8,000 first prize) in her 50K debut in 4:34:24 (8:50 mile pace). But about two minutes of that was spent in premature celebration, being photographed with the American flag.
She had finished a lap early.
USATF official Jeff Haspell rang his cowbell, signaling she had a 1.25-kilometer lap to go, but Stevens ignored it.
She said she mistrusted the lap counters, having been a victim of past mistakes (made to go an extra lap in 2017). So she “went by my watch” — a pedometer that indicated she’d gone 50.5 kilometers.
Her father, Robert Stevens, said he saw one official direct her to the finish line prematurely.
But officials said they saw bystanders urging her to head for the finish instead of make another wide turn back onto Town Center Parkway.
It fell to two-time Olympic race walker Allen James to put Stevens back on track.
Having dropped out after 20 miles, James was free to observe the finishes. He rushed to inform Stevens of her status.
“I’m glad she didn’t fight me,” said the 54-year-old former American record holder. “It was mission critical to get her going again.”
(James has seen snafus before. He recalled the 1996 Atlanta Olympic mishap in which a marshal led Australian walker Duane Cousins to finish a lap early. Cousins eventually received an official apology.)
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No matter the circumstances, walkers Saturday agreed that conditions were harsh. Two mothers in the field told Times of San Diego that the sunny, low 80s temps in the afternoon made the 50K “worse than childbirth.”
Of the 17 male and 15 female starters, 10 failed to finish — an attrition rate of 31 percent. And five of the 15 entrants in a concurrent 20K walk also dropped out. (See results here.)
Erin Taylor-Talcott, considered the “godmother” of the women’s 50K for her pivotal efforts to gain international acceptance of the event, came looking for a 4:30 IAAF qualifier as well.
But a “weak and shaky” Taylor-Talcott, 40, had come down with strep throat more than a week earlier and quit the race after about 11 miles. “I’m still on antibiotics,” she said.
El Cajon’s Nick Christie led much of the way, but also called it quits with 10 kilometers left. He had thrown up earlier.
“Stomach wasn’t working,” Christie said a month after taking a red-eye flight to Rochester, New York, and setting an American indoor record in the 10K race walk.
Still hoping to make the Tokyo Olympic team — in either the 20K or 50K — Christie said a 3:55 men’s qualifying mark for the 31-mile race was “still in the cards.”
“What today told me is I should get faster at 20K,” he said. “If I had gone out slower (Saturday), I would have been good.”
The top American male — and winner of $8,000 of a $50,000 American purse — was Matthew Forgues of Boothbay, Maine — now living in Chula Vista and training with Olympian and Cuyamaca College coach Tim Seaman.
He clocked 4:27:28 — an 8:37 mile pace.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day — even to himself — was 18-year-old Logan Roberts Jr. of Burley, Washington.
A senior at South Kitsnap High School, he collapsed just beyond the finish line of the 10-kilometer race, requiring medical attention.
“He pushed himself to the limit here today,” said race director Tracy Sundlun, who announced the event for more than seven hours in his own endurance challenge.
But Roberts recovered to tell how his time of 48:16 qualified him for a world junior championships.
Also making a breakthrough was 55-year-old Kathryn Grimes of Newberg, Oregon, whose 5:37:30 smashed the American age-group record of 6:31:52 by Cathy Mayfield in 2008. (Fellow W55 Carmen Jackinsky was another heat dropout. She then spent time staffing her ReShod walking shoes booth in the shopping center.)
At 73, the oldest finisher was Darlene Backlund of Palm Springs, who smiled her way to a time of 7:29:04 — well off her own American age-group record of 6:50:24 (set two years ago in Santee.)
Taylor-Talcott, who normally travels to Santee with her race-walking husband, David, said he had to stay home in Oswego, New York, this weekend to work.
But she vowed to work to earn a spot on the 2020 Olympic team.
“I’m going to qualify for Tokyo,” she said.
She also praised meet organizers.
“They always do a great job,” Taylor-Talcott said. “If they can just control the weather a little better — that would be nice.”
Aussie Wins Santee 50K Race Walk, Labels Women’s Olympic Exclusion ‘Absurd’ was last modified: January 28th, 2019 by Ken Stone
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