Far too often Christopher Linke's medal dreams are shattered shortly before the end. After a by no means optimal preparation, the tide turns for him at the European Championship premiere of the 35-kilometer walk. Because a Swede breaks in and because he's running the race of his life.
New distance, new luck: Christopher Linke has often had a medal in mind but never gotten his hands on it - but this time everything went well. At the European Championship premiere of the 35-kilometer walk, the sports soldier from Potsdam won silver in the race of his life. On the two-kilometer circuit between Odeonsplatz and Siegestor in downtown Munich, he had slowly but steadily pulled away from three competitors at kilometer 23, and his last few meters to the finish became a triumphal march.
The Spaniard Miguel Angel Lopez won gold in a superior manner. The 20-kilometer world champion of 2015 broke away from the field early and won in 2:26.49 hours, well ahead of Linke (2:29.30), who also benefited from the collapse of the Swede Perseus Karlström, who had been second for a long time: The World Championship Third at the premiere of the 35-kilometer distance three weeks ago in Eugene suddenly died between 22 and 23 kilometers and gave up after 27 kilometers.
"I put it this way: finally a medal," said Linke: "Gold was gone early, it looked like bronze, but I felt good and luckily the Swede had problems."
With temperatures around 23 degrees in the morning, Linke took advantage of the moment. In the past few years he had come close to an international medal several times, but it never worked out: he finished fourth at the 2014 European Championships and the 2019 World Cup, and fifth over 20 kilometers at the 2016 and 2021 Olympics and the 2017 World Cup. Due to the corona-related cancellation of his World Cup start over the new distance of 35 kilometers, however, the preparation did not go well.
Lopez was already hurrying away from the field at 6km, his lead over Karlstrom was growing steadily as well as over a larger chasing group with Jonathan Hilbert and Linke: After 15km, they were already more than two minutes behind. After 17 kilometers, this group split: Olympic silver medalist Hilbert (50 kilometers) fell behind. Linke stayed close, overtook Karlström a few laps later - and went undeterred towards silver. Hilbert was fifth.