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Richmond, Nanaimo athletes qualify for Paris Olympics new event

Richmond's Evan Dunfee and Nanaimo's Olivia Lundman to compete in Paris' mixed marathon relay.
Richmond's Evan Dunfee (left) and teammate Olivia Lundman secured their Olympic qualification in Turkiye.

A Richmond and Nanaimo athlete duo is heading to the Paris Olympic Games to compete in the newest race walking event.

Richmond Olympic medallist Evan Dunfee and Nanaimo's Olivia Lundman, representing Canada, qualified for the Olympic mixed marathon relay on April 21 after competing in the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships.

The two athletes, as a team, were announced as one of the 22 teams heading to Paris this summer after securing the 21st spot.

The championships saw more than 400 athletes from around 50 countries competing on a two-kilometre loop course close to the Antalya Expo Centre in Turkey.

The mixed marathon relay consists of a male and female teammate alternating two legs each for a total of 42.195-kilometre of a marathon, explained Dunfee.

He averaged just under four minutes per kilometre for his 22-kilometre race walk distance, while Lundman walked just under five minutes per kilometre for her 20-kilometres.

Their total team time was 3:07:10 with Italy claiming the championship title with a time of 2:56:45.

Lundman, 21, is attending UBC as a Kinesiology student and is currently coached in race walking by Dunfee.

“Getting to help guide an athlete towards the Olympic Games in my first year of coaching is an incredible privilege and I’m grateful to Olivia as well as Linda Campbell and Gerry Dragomir, her previous coaches, for trusting me with this responsibility," said Dunfee.

“From a coaching perspective, I am really proud of the determination Olivia showed. Making it to Paris was always a bit of an outside shot in our minds and the focus has always been on improving towards the LA Olympics in 2028 for Olivia."

He added that qualifying for Paris is a motivation and an "incredible experience" that Lundman will carry with her to the Los Angeles Olympics.

From an athlete's perspective, Dunfee told the Richmond News he is excited to be racing in two events in the Paris games.

“The 20km will still be my focus as I fight for the podium in the shorter distance after my preferred 50km got removed from the program,” he said.

“But the relay will be a lot of fun and a unique experience for me at my third Olympic Games.”

Dunfee and Lundman will be competing in the Canadian Championship 10-kilometre walk on May 11 at Coquitlam’s Percy Perry Stadium.

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