The Australian men’s race walking team have finished fourth at the 2022 World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships after a heartbreaking penalty in the final minutes of the race in Muscat, Oman.
An excruciating ending to the 2022 World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships has seen Australia miss out on both team and individual medals in the 20km events, with technical errors made by the men’s team on Saturday night in Oman.
The Australian men’s team consisting of Tokyo Olympians Declan Tingay, Kyle Swan and Rhydian Cowley as well as Will Thompson and Tyler Jones, were within a whisker of a podium finish, but a two-minute penalty for Tingay in the final minutes of the race saw the team ultimately finish in fourth place.
In the Open races at the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships, a nation’s first three finishers score for the team, with the results decided by the aggregate of placings recorded by each. The team with the lowest score is declared the winner.
Even with a two-minute penalty placed on Tingay after a receiving a third red card for loss of contact with the ground, the Western Australian posted the strongest result of all the Australians, crossing the line in 11th place (1:26:05). Prior to his penalty, Tingay was comfortably in third position, and had the finish line in site when tapped on the shoulders by the judges.
Olympic 50km race walker Cowley finished just three seconds behind in 12th (1:26:05), while Thompson (1:28:36) and Swan (1:30:56) finished 27th and 34th respectively. Jones was disqualified on his seventh lap of the two-kilometre course after receiving his fourth red card from judges.
Athletics Australia Event Group Lead for Race Walking, Brent Vallance said despite being “painfully close” to claiming two medals in the event, he is thrilled with the strong results produced by the team and is confident of what’s to come from many of the athletes on show tonight.
“We’ve been in this position before with our younger athletes, and generally the first time they are genuinely competitive in an international team, there is some level of greater scrutiny that they aren’t used to, and Declan’s position today is no different to say Nathan Deakes in his early days, Jane Saville early in her career and even Jared Tallent. We don’t want to say it’s a right of passage, but it isn’t uncommon,” Vallance said.
“As for the team medal, it would have been great to get one as that was our focus, but if we look at where we are at in the overall scheme of the 2024 Olympic cycle, there is nothing but fantastic and positive results coming out of this for our team moving forward.
“Declan has been a standout all summer, and was a standout junior for a number of years. He went under 1:21 to meet the qualifying standard for the World Athletics Championships in Oregon at the Australian Championships last month, and that puts him in good company with some of our best.
“We don’t think our other athletes are too far behind either. Will is keeping pace with Declan from an age on age comparison and Kyle isn’t too far behind. Rhydian has just had his best 20km international race ever, so there’s a lot more to come from him too. There’s a bit of technical work to do with Tyler, but he has great potential.
“Our athletes will now prepare for Oregon, and a few other international events to gain more experience and exposure to judges. It will be about them learning how to compete with the best in the world. The Indians and Kenyans gave us a clear warning that they aren’t going to give up any medals at the Commonwealth Games, but things are looking good for the year ahead based on what we have seen tonight.”
In other results, Victorian Carl Gibbons flew the flag for the Australians in the men’s 35km event. Gibbons recorded a time of 2:46:35 to finish 29th out of a 56-strong field; a strong effort for his first ever race of the distance.
Clara Smith made her long-awaited senior team debut in the women’s 20km event after taking time away from the sport following the 2016 World Under 20 Championships, but was unable to finish the hilly course in the humid conditions. Smith pulled out of the race after her 13th kilometre.
Australia’s race walkers will now travel home to prepare for the Australian Track and Field Championships, commencing on March 26.
With thanks Athletics Australia.