By Brian Homewood
DOHA (Reuters) – Two of the world championship medalists in the 50 kilometer race walk have criticized plans by the sport’s governing body (IAAF) to get rid of the event from 2022 onwards.
Canadian Evan Dunfee, bronze medalist in the race held in the early hours of Sunday morning, said the IAAF were missing out on its potential.
“I love this event, this event is so special and I am really disappointed they are getting rid of it because I think this event could be so big,” he told reporters after the race.
“There are so many opportunities in the 50k to promote track and field…not just race walking. You can throw a festival out there, you can put a stage and you have live music, you have kids events and you teach kids about track and field, you bring in new fans.”
“There’s a whole market we can get — if we just put in a tiny bit of effort we could attract that fan base and promote track and field and active living,” he added. That’s the solution — the solution isn’t getting rid of the event.”
Silver medalist Joao Vieira of Portugal was also upset. “It’s bad, very bad,” the 43-year-old told Reuters after becoming the oldest man to win a medal at any event in world championship history.
The IAAF’s race walking committee recommended in February that the 20k and 50k events should be replaced with 10k and 30k respectively, with the 2023 world championships in Budapest the first major event to be affected.
The decision-making IAAF Council agreed with the recommendation “in principle” the following month, although it suggested a choice of two out of 10k, 20k, 30k or 35k.
(Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Toby Davis)