02/01/2021   The homework of Christmas holidays of Gabriel at 4th year of a High School in Bologna



At the Fermi Scientific High School in Bologna (ITA) the pfrof of phisycal education chose "in order not to overfill the January weeks with tests and questions, I will give you the second grade of the term on a report that you will have to do during the holidays and send me within Thursday 7 January.

Since in the last few lessons we talked about athletics the topic will be that.

You can choose whether to focus on an athlete, a discipline, an event, a particular fact ... in short, you have the maximum choice as long as you stay in the field of athletics."


Proud choice for those like us who live off sport, but even more proud choice if it refers to a young boy, 16 years old, of IVB, whom we will call only Gabriel for confidentiality. Those who have a smettering of race walking in Italy and in the world will bring it back without any shadow of doubt to the person and event, whose twentieth anniversary occurred this year and which on our website Marcia dal Mondo had been given ample discussion on September 4, 2020. Click here


It is with a message like this, of a memory told to a young boy who, at the time was not yet born, by his grandfather, with whom we want to start the year.

The moral of this tale is that race walking will live on if we continue to believe in this discipline.


Thanks Gabriel





Development of the theme


What is "Race Walking"


Walking is an athletics discipline that had its first appearance at the Athens Olympics in 1906 (1.500m e 3.000m tra).

It has very specific and well-established rules, somewhat difficult to respect due to the apparently unnatural technical gesture, which however the athletes must respect for the entire duration of the race.

There are two basic rules: the walker must never lose contact with the ground (at least part of one and/or both feet must always be in contact with the ground) and the avancing  leg must be straightened (i.e. not bent at the knee) from the moment of first contact of the heed with the ground until to the vertical position. These rules, dictated by the World Athletics (formerly known as IAAF), make the Olympic discipline more similar to a fast and competitive walk rather than to the actual running, in which these constraints must not be respected.

A very important role in this discipline is assumed by the various judges who are responsible for scrupulously and rigorously enforcing the rules that are often applied during the race (because in running you go faster than walking).

The judge has the unquestionable task of reporting the irregularity in the athletic pace of the competitors. He can communicate a caution, if the infringement is slight, through a yellow paddle, or a warning or proposal for disqualification with a red card, if the infringement is conspicuous or if the athlete had already received a caution from the same judge. When an athlete receives three disqualification proposals (red cards) from three different judges, the Chief Judge must report to the athlete, via a red paddle, his immediate disqualification.

In international competitions the judges, which are eight, must be of various nationalities and if an athlete receives the disqualification proposal from a judge, another of the same nationality will not be able to give him a second warning.

The races held at the Olympics are 20 km for women and men and 50 km for men only.



The facts of Sydney 2000


A race walking competition has gone down in history for the events that my grandfather, then Chief Judge and with a 31-year career as a Judge, has told me several times. This is the women's 20km walk of the Sydney 2000 Olympics that left everyone loss of words due to the disqualifications that arrived that day, September 24, 2000.


After about 16 km of the race, three women are on the leading pack fighting for the medals: Liu Hongyu (CHN) to lead the group, followed by Elisabetta Perrone (ITA) and the Australian Jane Saville tries to keep attached to them. It was 11:56am when the Chinese Liu Hongyu is disqualified, passing the baton of the possible victory to Elisabetta Perrone, who, however, a minute and twenty seconds later collects the third red card for loss of contact. However, the red paddle that marks the end of her race was presented to her at 12.00 (due to a problem with the electronic scoreboard that kept showing only a red card) by the chief judge Lamberto Vacchi.


For Jane Saville, the road to victory, on the home course, seemed cleared as she was left alone in the lead following the two disqualifications of the athletes who were in front of her; however, two proposals for disqualification (red cards) had already weighed on her for twenty minutes. Ten interminable minutes pass and the giant screen of the stadium projects images of Saville who is approaching, unstoppable, to the finish line.

But 120 meters from her arrival, at the entrance to the tunnel that leads to the track, Jane Saville meets the Chief Judge (my grandfather), who prevents her from entering as the winner and relegates her to be DQ'ed, showing her that red paddle that she never wanted to see.

Then Wang Liping (CHN) wins gold, silver to Kjersti Platzer (NOR) and bronze to Maria Vasco (ITA).


Sports newspapers in Italy and Australia, but also in other parts of the world have written flow of words about this historic race.