The Greek 20K Race Walking Championships took place on Sunday in Megara, a town about 40K west of Athens, and the top women beat almost all of the men. Zacharias Tsamoudakis won the men’s race in 1:32:24, finishing only 16 seconds ahead of women’s champion Kiriaki Filtisikou, who took the national title in 1:32:40. The next four women across the line also finished with quicker times than the second-place man.
The men all finished well off the 20K Olympic qualifying standard of 1:21:00, but the top couple of women came close to their standard of 1:31:00. The fields were small, with only four men and eight women racing, but that shouldn’t take away from the fact that the top women dominated those few men who entered the event.
Behind Filtisikou was Antigoni Drisbioti, who finished in 1:33:20, and Christina Papadopoulos, who crossed the line in third in 1:34:38. Filtisikou and Papadopoulos are both quite young, racing at the ages of 20 and 24, and neither has competed at the Olympics.
The 37-year-old Drisbioti, on the other hand, has made it to the Olympics, and she placed 15th at the Rio Games in the 20K race walk. The two younger athletes have performed well on big stages before, though, and they both look poised to carry the torch for the Greek race walking team after Drisbioti retires.
The Greek nationals were the second 20K race of Filtisikou’s and Papadopoulos’s seasons, with the first for both women coming at the Balkan Race Walking Championships in Turkey at the end of March. Like on Sunday, Filtisikou got the better of Papadopoulos in Turkey, crossing the line 30 seconds in front of her compatriot and finishing with a PB of 1:32:23. Papadopoulos also posted a PB, stopping the clock in 1:32:53.
While Filtisikou finished first out of the pair, she was registered in the race as an out of competition participant and therefore not included in the official results. Because of this, Papadopoulos won bronze in Turkey. The two women carried the momentum gained from the Balkan championships right through to the Greek nationals, and they laid down great times yet again, ultimately crushing the men’s field.