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Walker Wanyonyi under no pressure to defend U20 title in Cali

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 1 – World Under-20 race walking champion Heristone Wanyonyi says he is not feeling any pressure ahead of the junior championships in Cali, Colombia.

Wanyonyi said his appearance at the World Race Walking Championship in Muscat, Oman in March has heightened his confidence ahead of the competition on August 2-6.

“If you look at it closely, no one has posted a faster time than me this year. I guess that makes me a threat rather than the others posing a threat to me. The way I see it, the pressure is more on my competitors,” Wanyonyi said.

His journey to defending his title, won on home soil at last year’s World Under 20 Championships in Nairobi, began on a successful note when he stormed to victory in the men’s 10,000m walk during the national trials at Nyayo Stadium on Friday morning.

Wanyonyi timed 43:16.1 as his training partner, Stephen Ndakili (44:16.3) and Dominic Mwenda (45:50.0) finished second and third respectively.

He described the win as the best way to bounce back from the disappointment at the Senior African Athletics Championships in Reduit, Mauritius where he failed to finish the men’s 20km race walk.

“I suffered an injury to my right leg and so couldn’t finish the race. It was a bit heartbreaking but I feel much better now that I’ve won today. I am happy to be back, competing on track because it is less punishing than the road races,” he said.

Despite the win, Wanyonyi concedes there is much more he needs to do to reach peak form.

“So far, the training has focused on building endurance. We would race walk for at least 20km per day. The next step is to work on speed and technique. Fortunately, I have a coach with vast experience in race walking,” he said.

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