Above: Quentin Rew placed 12th at the World Championships.
Quentin Rew in his own inimitable style of moving through the field over the second half was rewarded with 12th placing in the 50km race walk in a New Zealand national record of 3:46:29 at the IAAF World Championships in London.
Rew said that technically it was not his best race.
“I was on warnings from almost all the judges and one more red card and I was out. Technically I was pretty boarder-line," said Rew.
"The warnings were coming pretty steadily throughout the race, one red card between 10k and 15k and the second red card on the last lap. Obviously with fatigue and trying to pick up places on the last lap and I was pushing it hard but not too hard,” he added"
The 33 year old from Wellington, attending his fourth World Championships was 29th at 5km and 27th at 10km passed in 45:50.
“It was a strange race. Usually in races like this there is a fairly big group that are walking between 4:30 and 4:35 (per kilometre) but basically I was by myself the whole race. I knew there were about 25 guys that took off at 3:45 pace and I knew they weren’t all going to do 3:45 so I had to just keep reminding myself to be patient because people did come back and I knew that some would come back and the race for me was putting myself in a good position so when they did come back I could take advantage of that.”
That was certainly the case as Rew improved to 25th at 20km and 22nd by 30km. Also his pace was going up a notch for each 10k split, the split to 30km being 45:18.
By 45km Rew was looking relaxed as he advanced up to 18th place, ready to take advantage of those who went out too fast.
“The last 5km was when they started to come back and even on the last 2km lap I picked up three to four places.
“The plan was to try and walk consistently, I didn’t go outrageously quickly in the last 5km it was just that other people were going backwards so it was taking advantage of that.”
Rew had his own cheer group of University mates present to encourage him on his way.
“They’re a good bunch of New Zealanders living in London and I was really lucky to have a few friends spread out along the course yelling you on and certainly in those closing stages when everything starts getting pretty tired it’s really cool having the New Zealand flag flying and people cheering,” said Rew.
He cut out the final 5km in 22:23 crossing to finish line to then go down and do a couple of press ups before being helped to the medical tent to recover.
“My legs were tired at the end but I still had a little bit of energy in the arms to stand in solidarity with Isaac Makwala who I think got a really rough deal in these championships so I just tried to emulate him.”
The Melbourne-based physiotherapist broke Craig Barrett’s national record of 3:48:04 set in New Plymouth in 2001.
“I knew I was on pace to break the national record fairly early on. I was walking about 4:30 per k over the last 30k and I knew if I could keep that up then the national record would go.
“That’s certainly the strongest I’ve finished in any 50k, so I’m pretty happy to get Craig’s national record at last.”
At the Beijing world championships two years ago Rew was tenth in his then personal best of 3:48:48.
“I walk my own race I can’t change the fact that other people were ahead of me and I couldn’t have gone any faster today. Last time I was good enough for 10th and this time I was good enough for 12th.”
“Top 12 in general is a kind of bench mark in calling yourself elite rather than any financial incentive.”
Rew has come a long way from his winning time of 4:52:55 in winning the 2009 New Zealand title.”
He was 24th at the 2011 world championships, 17th in 2013 and tenth two years ago. He has also improved at each of the two Olympic Games he has attended 27th on the same course on The Mall at the 2012 London Games and 12th last year in Rio.
“There’s definitely more to come in future years,” he added.
But it may have to be in the shorter 20km race walk with the longer race being dropped from the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games next April.
Rew is annoyed that the 50km walk is not on the programme.
“What it means for me, is that I’ve got to switch down to 20km mode now and I’ve got to try and sharpen up. I took about 45 seconds off the national record earlier this year but it still wasn’t good enough to qualify for Gold Coast,” he said.
Rew will compete in a 20km trial event at Fawkner Park Melbourne in December in a bid to qualify.
Yohann Diniz of France won the world 50km title by eight minutes in a championship record of 3:33:12.
Diniz went out early and improved the further he went.
"I started having doubts after 20km but in training, we have been doing lots of changes of rhythms, so I just kept going. I got a card around 20k too and I thought, 'I just must not mess this up.' I just concentrated completely on my technique. A lot of training has gone into this – cycling, swimming – everything for this 50km walk,” said Diniz.
Ines Henriques of Portugal won the inaugural women’s 50km title in a world record 4:05:56.
"It is great that the 50km is at the world championships despite the fact that it is a really hard event. The last 5kms were really tough. My goal was to go under 4 hours and 6 minutes, so I am really happy with this time. It felt like at home in London with so many Portuguese fans supporting me. I hope that in future we will see more women competing at this distance," said Henriques.
Erin Talcott of USA who competed in New Zealand during the summer was one of the seven starters but was unfortunately disqualified.
“I’m sad, frustrated and disappointed. I felt great out there. I was feeling fantastic, strong. It was such a surprise," said Talcott.
"It’s amazing to have this opportunity to be a part of the first women’s 50 km at the world championships, and I think it’s only going to continue to grow,” she added.
Athletics New Zealand Correspondent