Racewalking, or race walking, is a long-distance athletic event. Although it is a foot race, it is different from running in that one foot must appear to be in contact with the ground at all times. Stride length is reduced, so to achieve competitive speeds, racewalkers must attain cadence rates comparable to those achieved by Olympic 400-metre runners—and they must do so for hours at a time since the Olympic events are the 20 kilometre race walk for women and men and 50-kilometre race walk for men.
There are two rules that govern racewalking. The first dictates that the athlete's back toe cannot leave the ground until the heel of the front foot has touched. Violation of this rule is known as loss of contact. The second rule requires that the supporting leg must straighten from the point of contact with the ground and remain straightened until the body passes directly over it. These rules are judged by the human eye, which creates controversy at today's high speeds. Athletes may sometimes lose contact for a few milliseconds per stride which can be caught on high-speed film, but such a short flight phase is undetectable to the human eye.
Judges line the route and use paddles to indicate that an athlete is breaking the rules. A third warning results in disqualification.
World-class racewalkers (male and female) can average under seven and eight minutes per mile (or under four and five minutes per kilometre, respectively), in a 20 km (12 mi) racewalk.
2012 Olympic Champion: Chen Ding (CHN)
Olympic Record: 1:18:46 - Chen Ding (CHN – 2012)
British Gold Medallists: Ken Matthews (1964)
World Record: 1:16:36 – Yusuke Suzuki (JAP - 2015)
British Record: 1:22:03 – Ian McCombie (1988)
2012 Olympic Champion: Sergey Kirdyapkin (RUS)
Olympic Record: 3:35:59 - Sergey Kirdyapkin (RUS - 2012)
British Gold Medallists: Tommy Green (1932); Harold Whitlock (1936); Don Thompson (1960)
World Record: 3:32:33 – Yohann Diniz (FRA – 2014)
British Record: 3:51:37 – Chris Maddocks (1990)
2012 Olympic Champion: Elena Lashmanova (RUS)
Olympic Record: 1:52:02 - Elena Lashmanova (RUS – 2012)
World Record: 1:24:38 – Hong Liu (CHN – 2015)
British Record: 1:30:41 – Johanna Jackson (2010)
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