Borchin prevails as Saransk race walking school finally makes it to top of Olympic podium


Beijing Olympic organisers put down a 4mm thick matt along the course for the mens 20km Race Walk today and it turned into a magic carpet ride for Russias 21-year-old Valeriy Borchin. Inevitably, he thanked his coach and the President of the Republic of Mordovia.
If it hadnt been for these two people, I would never have made it, Borchin said. While the coach gave his expertise to Borchins development, and the President the financial backing to the school of race walking in the city of Saransk, there was more to it than that.

Special track used in training pays off

We bought a track (matt) in Saransk, Borchin explained, referring to how Russia had prepared for the temporary surface laid in Beijing after walkers had complained that the road was too hard at the test event in May. We bought it especially to win, so thanks for the coach and the President of our little Republic. He invests money in our school.

While, on an industrial level, Saransk is known for the manufacture of machinery and food processing, it also has a twin conveyor belt for sport one is Greco-Roman wrestling, the other is race walking. Now Borchin can be mentioned in the same breath as Alexei Mishin, who won an Olympic gold in wrestling at Athens 2004.

The race walking school in Saransk is the training home for most top Russian walkers. The head coach there, Viktor Chegin, runs a code of strong discipline towards training. In my home Republic of Mordova my school of race walking is a very prestigious one, Borchin said. It is an elite school with worldwide acclaim.

How do we train? We have a morning training session, and one in the afternoon, with stringent controls during the sessions. My coach is very supportive and he is behind us all to make sure we work very hard. It is a very large school. It takes care of somewhere in the region of 70 walkers.

Making up for Osaka disappointment

Said by Russian journalists to be quiet to the point of shy, Borchin spared Russia and its school of race walking in Saransk especially a second successive nil return on its investment so far as mens walking is concerned. The mens squad failed to win a medal at either 20km or 50km at the World Championships, in Osaka, last year, albeit Olga Kaniskina and Tatyana Shemyakina took gold and silver in the womens 20km.

Borchin was among the Russian drop-outs in Osaka, complaining of the heat and humidity. But it did not stop him today as he produced a winning time (1:19.01) just two seconds short of Robert Korzeniowskis Olympic record (1:18.59) from Sydney 2000. Until today, Borchins main achievements were his European Championships silver medal from 2006, his European U23 gold medal in 2007, and his silver from the 2008 IAAF World Race Walking Cup, in Cheboksary, Russia, in May.

Narrowly beaten in Cheboksary by Francisco Javier Fernandez, the Spaniard who was seventh today, Borchin came to Beijing more in expectation than in hope. I was absolutely sure, even before the start, that I was walking for a medal but for the gold medal I was not so sure, he said.

I have been working with my coach for five years and, if it was not for him, I would never have made it. Here he helped me a lot he prompted me, he gave me nutrition and good advice.

Borchins victory denied Ecuadors Jefferson Perez a second Olympic title to go with the three successive gold medals he has won at World Championships in Paris (2003), Helsinki (2005) and Osaka (2007). After finishing as runner-up to the Russian, Perez, who won his Olympic title in 1996, said: I have walked against three generations of Russian walkers very respectable walkers and I have managed to cover only 12 years of walking. I hope the new Olympic champion manages to last 12 years.

David Powell for the IAAF
RusAthletics - Russian Athletics

   RusAthletics.comRambler's Top100