22/08/2021   Young athletes of Russia: evolution or involution compared to the past ?



During this month of August 2021, the U20 European Championships in Tallinn (EST), the Olympic Games in Tokyo (JPN), and finally the U20 World Championships in Nairobi (KEN) were held in order.
All these important competitions included walking revents with participating athletes from all over Europe and for the Olympic Games and World Championships from all over the World.
Furthermore, both at European Athletics and World Athletics levels, athletes from Russia were admitted as “Neutral” (or in the case of the Olympic Games as Olympic Committee). We want to remind them:
Tallin U20
- 10,000m track walk men: Dmitriy Gramachkov (3rd) and Maksim Pyanzin (10th after a stop in the Penalty Zone)
- 10,000m track walk women: Yuliya Khalilova (1st) and Yekaterina Petrova (4th)
Tokyo - Sapporo
- 20m walk men: Vasiliy Mizinov (DQ)
- 20m walk women: Elvira Kashanova (16th)
Nairobi U20
- 10,000m men walk: Dmitriy Gramachkov (5th) and Maksim Pyanzin (DQ)
- 10,000m walk women: Yelena Sborets (6th) and Anastasia Kolchina (DQ)
Frankly, we were very surprised to see when returning to high-interest competitions such a low technical rate that we had never seen in Russian athletes.
We offer our readers the following table:

Competition Gendre Number of athletes Red Cards Penality  DQ
Tallin 2021 - U20 Men 2 athletes 3 1  
Tokyo 2021 Men 1 athlete 4   1
Nairobi 2021 - U20 Men 2 athletes 8   1
Tallin 2021 - U20 Women 2 athletes 3    
Tokyo 2021 Women 1 athlete 2    
Nairobi 2021 - U20 Women 2 athletes 7   2
Total   10 athletes 27 1 4



compared with that of the same competitions in the years that included the last Olympic season and the same U20 European and World Championships in which the athletes of Russia had participated before the suspension.



Competition Gendre Number of athletes Red Cards Penality  DQ
Barcelona 2012 - U20 Men 2 athletes      
London 2012 - 20km Men 3 athletes 3   1
London 2012 - 50km Men 3 athletes 3    
Rieti 2013 - U20 Men 2 athletes      
Barcelona 2012 - U20 Women 2 athletes      
London 2021 - 20km Women 3 athletes 2    
Rieti 2013 - U20 Women 2 athletes 1    
Total   17 athletes 9 - 1
It seems very clear to everyone that, compared to the past, there has been a significant technical involution, which among other things has also had to deal with the technical evolution shown by other countries, particularly at the youth level.
Chronometric generational gap
Furthermore, at U20 level, none of the participants in Tallin and Nairobi (both men and women) was also able to improve their seasonal lead even if obtained in the distance on the road.
It will be said that the season was special due to COVID19, yet the U20s of France and Spain managed to improve their personal best twice by competing in Tallin and Nairobi.
What is even more perplexing, however, is, in addition to the technical difference presented at the U20 level (21 red cards, 1 athlete in the penalty area and 3 DQ athletes in 2021 against only 1 red card and no DQ obtained by the U20s in the years 2012-2013) is also the chronometric gap of the two generations of athletes at the World and European U20 Championships.
In the U20 women this gap was 2:40, an impressive time that cannot be explained solely by the fact that in Nairobi they competed in altitude while in Barcelona they competed at sea level.
In the U20 European Championships, the difference between Rieti 2013 and Tallin 2021 always in women, cities in which the altitude has little influence, the generation gap is 1:55.
For the record, however, it must be pointed out that the Russian athletes who have obtained ANA status this season are all U18s and this would at least explain the generational time gap.
However, he would not be able to explain the technical differential displayed and evaluated by the juries.
It is precisely in this age group that a good walking coach tries to train the athlete to the correctness of the rule by also setting him on a profitable style from the point of view of energy expenditure.
The only explanation we were able to give is given by the fact that the suspension from international competitions of what was one of the first world walking powers has had a very negative impact on the technique of their athletes over time.
Competing in one's own Country, always in front of the eyes of national judges who are normally less experienced than those that athletes will then encounter in international competitions, was, in our opinion, the highest technical price that these young people have paid.
And this technical price was also reflected at the senior level.
And this is a situation (among other things common to other Countries as well) whose solution requires a reasonable long working time.
Frankly, we would like to see young Russians walking again, if not better, at least in a similar way to that of their predecessors who, like it or not, have always put on a good race walk.