05/05/2021   Don Dunfee (CAN): I think that the most important factor in my son’s development was that our local judges were very strict.


Scrolling through the comments in the groups dedicated to race walking on Facebook in search of any news for our site Marcia dal Mondo, we came across this sentence from Don Dunfee (CAN) the father of Evan Dunfee that everyone knows not only as a walker, but also for the human ethical value.
Everyone remembers his hug to Hirooki Arai (JAP) at Rio de Janeiro airport after the 2016 Olympic Games.
Don Dunfee's sentence sounded like this:
"I think that the most important factor in my son’s development was that our local judges were very strict. He was disqualified a few times and the judges took the time to explain to him his faults. He learned at a young age to be very precise.
The judges were kinder and honest to him by disqualifying him rather than let him believe that which he was doing was correct.
In other words, it does a great disservice to youth to allow them to believe their technique is adequate then to be disqualified at international events."
We contacted him and kindly asked him to better explain this statement to Marcia dal Mondo readers, framing it in the career of his son Evan.
Here is the thought of him.



Race Walk is not a high profile event in Canada. 


Evan Dunfee came upon it quite by accident. His brother, Adam, was encouraged to race walk due to an emergency appendectomy just prior to track season. His coach thought it would be easier on him than running. Adam took to it and qualified for a Junior Development Award, something Evan had not earned. Given the boy’s competitiveness I asked Adam to teach Evan enough to enable him to compete in the British Columbia Championships where he might earn the same award. He did, and he added race walk to his other events.  


He was very fortunate in that some of the officials had made the effort to be certified in race walk.  There was a small but very accommodating race walk community. 

Evan met Gerry Dragomir when he was ten. Gerry organized what was essentially a master’s group but the welcomed younger athletes. 

Gerry has been Evan’s coach ever since and has grown with Evan and the other notables out of this group, Inaki Gomez and Ben Thorne. 

Gerry has the highest level of coaching certification and has been selected as Coach of the Year many times both nationally and provincially. 


The three were integral to Canada’s consecutive silver medals at the World Race Walk Team Championships.  

The early days were difficult in that we were unaware of that which was possible. Evan competed in 1500m and 3000m events. 

There was nothing else until he was almost 15 when he competed in a 5000m. 


He was disqualified three times during the early years. Each time the head judge, Peter Fejfar, took the time to explain to Evan that which he had done incorrectly. 

The way in which Peter interacted with Evan was crucial to his development. He is regarded as one of the better technicians in the event, I large part due to the exacting standards maintained by the officials. 


His first international event, however, proved to be a little rough. It was the annual CanAm Junior dual meet in Minneapolis. He had qualified for the team based on a 5000m time but the race was to be a 10km. 

He was disqualified, partly due to fatigue and partly due to wishing to score as many points as he could. He was very disappointed but the officials handled it well by informing him of his exact transgressions. 

As an aside, this meet was the carrot to get Inaki Gomez involved in the event. I well remember the boys opening the box containing their Canada kit. They were over the moon at the very generous amount of gear Athletics Canada provided. 


I was supposed to write a few words for Marcia dal Mondo detailing Evan’s early days in race walk. 

The theme was, I believe, to support the idea of officiating according to the rules regardless of the caliber of the competition.  I completely concur with this attitude based on the experience of my two boys. 

I have had the good fortune to meet many of the people entrusted with officiating international competitions. I have every confidence in their decisions. 


I also have confidence that they mitigate the disappointment of those disqualified. 

I remember Steve Taylor comforting Tom Bosworth in London. 

I know some criticized him but I thought that act represented that which is good in sport and that which places our event in the best of hands.



Don Dunfee - CAN