Race walk champion focused on 2021

By Don Fennell

Published 4:29 PDT, Mon August 17, 2020

Last Updated: 2:13 PDT, Wed May 12, 2021

If this had been a normal summer, Evan Dunfee would have been trying to catch his breath after the whirlwind of competing in the Olympic Summer Games. But COVID-19, and ultimately a global pandemic, altered that course.

Instead, Dunfee has been home in Richmond and busy training for the next opportunity to challenge the world’s best race walkers of which he’s a long-standing member.

Dunfee, you may remember, became something of a Canadian folk hero at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. In the 50-kilometre race, Hirooki Arai of Japan initially finished third but was then disqualified for making contact with Dunfee. Arai’s medal was reinstated on a further appeal at which time Dunfee advised the Canadian team against making a further appeal. Dunfee himself set a Canadian record in the event of three hours, 41 minutes, 38 seconds.

Dunfee, 29, came to terms with the fact there would be no Olympics this summer back in March.

“I honestly haven’t though about the ‘where I should be right now’ bit at all,” he said. “For me, the Olympics became 2021 back in March (when the Canadian Olympic Committee was one among the first to declare it would not send athletes to the Games, which were ultimately postponed to next summer).

“I just sort of flipped the switch and changed the focus. I’ve been enjoying training a little easier and stress free. Im healthy which is the best part.”

Training has been quite different though, Dunfee says. He’s done just as much as he’s felt inspired to, and it’s actually added up to more than ever—about 4,100 kilometres through July. But there’s no speed work, no workouts on the track, and no interval sessions.

“I just haven’t had the motivation to do those, nor the desire. And to be honest, there’s nothing in the schedule that I need to be in peak shape for. Motivation has certainly changed, but I enjoy training for the most part. I like getting out the door and doing something so that has been pretty easy, but I haven’t been motivated to get out the door early in the morning or do that second evening session if I have other things I'd rather be doing. Basically, the motivation now is to train as much as I want to and try to enjoy my time at home as much as I can.”

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