MOSCOW, August 9 (R-Sport) – Russian Olympic champion race walkers Olga Kaniskina and Sergey Kirdyapkin have surprisingly withdrawn from the world athletics championships in Moscow, their coach, Valentin Maslakov, told R-Sport on Friday.
It was not immediately clear why Kaniskina and Kirdyapkin pulled out, but Maslakov said "it's probably a case of their health." There was no elaboration.
A three-time defending world champion in the 20-kilometer race walk, Kaniskina, 28, won gold at the Beijing Games in 2008 and followed up with silver in London last year.
The 33-year-old Kirdyapkin won 50-kilometer gold in London and topped the podium at the 2005 and 2009 world championships. Kirdyapkin's absence opens the door for his main challenger, Australian Jared Tallent, who won silver in the 50-kilometer in Beijing and London.
Maslakov said further details would be known Friday night. Russia won't be allowed to enter replacements, he added.
The championships open Saturday at Luzhniki stadium and run through August 18. The women’s 20-kilometer race walk final is scheduled for August 13; the men’s 50-kilometer race walk final is August 14.