by Paul Smith

     Curt Clausen, who some claim is still America's best hope for a World
Championship and/or Olympic race walk medal, flew to Europe this week to
engage in just such a mission. Clausen was joined on the European front by
Dave McGovern, who wants more action after being part of the winning USA 20k
team at the Pan American Cup in Chula Vista last month.

     But before you can win a medal at the World Championships or Olympics
you must meet the qualifying time or sometimes be "grand-fathered" in as the
top ranked walker in America at either the 20 or 50K. Clausen has neither
qualified with a time nor is he sitting on top of the American 50K list.

     The window of opportunity for the World Championships is from January
1, 2003 through August 13, 2003, but there are not that many 50K
opportunities and that's why Clausen is visiting Naumburg, Germany, this
week. Naumburg has a 50K and it is here that Clausen may displace  teammate
Philip Dunn as the leading American. The time to beat is 4:15:00 (Dunn's
time at Tijuana last month where Clausen pulled out early).

     And what is McGovern gunning for in the heart of Germany? Apparently he
wants to walk faster than 4:56 and dislodge Theron Kissinger's claim on a
ticket to the August Pan American Games in Santa Domingo. Both McGovern and
Clausen should be a shoe in and come back home sitting in the driver's seat.
But Clausen has been having his troubles with a tender hamstring (Curt says
it's fine) and Lady Luck has not been kind to America's superhero in 2003.

     While Mexico used the 50K in Tijuana as its qualifying ground for the
Pan Am's and World Championships (the top 2 to Pan Am's and third place to
the World Championships) the American team is still sorting out the bodies.
The USA governing body has been mum about who will be going where, but then
maybe it's an unsolved mystery as well for the committee.

     Spots on the 20K team for the World Championships and Pan Am Games will
be contested at the US National Outdoor Track and Field Championships at
Stanford Univ.  There is a qualifying time for the IAAF World Championships,
but the Pan Am Games are made through placement at Palo Alto as there are no
qualifying time requirements to go to Santa Domingo.

     And, apparently Tim Seaman has returned to his 20K roots after a great
start this year with solid back-to-back walks in both Mexican Walk Week
(Tijuana) and the Pan Am Cup (Chula Vista) to go along with his indoor
national title. This solidifies a strong American 20K unit with Kevin
Eastler and John Nunn just a tick behind Seaman. And if someone fails Sean
Albert is not far off the pace. The American's are a rock-hard middle of the
road group (1:24 - 1:26) looking for the keys to drop down into the 1:22 -
1:23 range to challenge the world leaders. You need 1:19-1:21 to win, but a
fast 1:22 will give you worldwide creditability.

     If Clausen and McGovern went to Germany looking for stiff competition
they got it. Victor Ginko (Belarus), Jaime Costin (Ireland), and Sergey
Korepanov (KAZ) will be more than glad to give the USA tourists a good go at
the Naumburg show.

     The line-up also includes Germany's outstanding trio of walkers
starting with Andreas Erm plus Dennis and Mike Trautman. The jam packed
streets will be pulling for the homeland walkers and maybe for Ecuador's
Jefferson Perez who surprisingly is registered in the 50K instead of his
favorite 20K grind.

     While Clausen and McGovern have their hands full across the Atlantic,
Dan Pierce (US Race Walk Committee Chairman) must be piecing together a new
strategy to fill out the fields at the fast approaching US National 20K
Championships in Palo Alto. After a full day of racing across this land no
one qualified based on the time, but a few came close to edge up in the

     Enjoy race walking around the world with RWI.

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