The Rio Olympics approaches with all the inevitability of a tourist’s Zika infection, sunburn and hilarious story about being mugged, and getting ready for the off is Spain’s Raquel Gonzalez who is hoping to stroll away with one of the medals in the 20km Walk when the games get underway this August.
- Nationality – Spanish
- Age – 24
- Sport – 20km Walk
The Olympics is traditionally incomplete without a few sports that don’t seem, at first glance, to be sports at all. The synchronized swimming springs to mind as being the obvious example, formation water treading at best, but the competitive walking is just as strange an inclusion albeit one that has been around since its first appearance at the games in 1908. Not that Raquel Gonzalez could have taken part, it was a men’s event, and she wouldn’t be born for another 81 years.
Naturally it took the Olympics, a slow beast at the best of times, another few years to rectify this manifestly sexist imbalance and open the walking events up to women, although if you’re Spanish gambling news headlines announced it in 1912 you’d be wrong. It took them another 84 years and the first Women’s competitive walking at the Olympics took place in Barcelona in 1992 just three years after Raquel Gonzalez herself was born.
Spain Could Walk It In Rio With Raquel Gonzalez
Olympic Sports Walking
- 1908 Olympics – Men
- 1992 Olympics – Women
- Rio Venue – Pontal Beach
Her major debut was at the European Championships in Zurich, Switzerland, and despite keeping up with the big names in the sport for much of the first 17 km the top-class field strung her out giving her just a tenth place finish, something she found pushed her on to achieve even more. “I was in very good shape, but maybe I lacked experience.” Raquel Gonzalez admitted, “In the last section I ran out of strength.” However this disappointment didn’t prevent her continuing to walk for Spain.
The Olympic 20km Walk has a minimum time entry component with all competitors required to have completed an event in under 1 hour, 29 minutes and 30 seconds (because 90 minutes would have been too simple) and Raquel Gonzalez managed that at the World Cup in Rome in May of 2016 crossing the line in just 1 hour 29 minutes and 1 second, ironically giving her a tenth place finish, sealing her place on the plane to Rio and making her one to watch if you like to bet on sports in Spain at Bet365.
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The big stage tends to bring out the best in athletes, the massive pressures upon them to perform perhaps one of the many and lamentable reasons behind the mass drug abuse and doping scandals that have beset the IAAF and its new president Sebastian Coe, and Raquel Gonzalez, who runs for FC Barcelona, is likely to put in the performance of her life at Rio 2016, but will she be able to overcome global competition and snatch one of the podium places? Bet365 will have all the odds in due course.
There are, of course, numerous humorous observations to make about competitive walking, most of which revolve around the somewhat awkward looking gait employed by competitors, including Raquel Gonzalez, however the levels of fitness required are phenomenal and if you’re Spanish gambling laws of the sport are too complex to enforce properly making it all a tad ridiculous just check out Raquel and her chums this summer, it’s a fascinating spectacle, and one not as easy as they make it look.