Forget checking out the Acropolis or shopping for T-shirts. U.S. Olympic racewalker Kevin Eastler hasn’t had much time for sightseeing in Greece.

For the past 10 days, the Farmington native has been training in Crete and Athens to get himself acclimated to Greece’s torrid climate and smoggy air.

The temperature in Athens is hovering in the mid 90s and the stale air could make it slow going for the American contingent of Eastler, Tim Seaman and John Nunn.

“It’s pretty warm,” the U.S. Air Force captain said in a telephone interview from the Athlete’s Village in Athens on Thursday. “I think this is going to be a big factor.”

Eastler’s 20-kilometer race began at 9 a.m. Friday in Athens, but since there is a seven-hour time difference, MSNBC’s TV coverage aired between 2 and 3 a.m.

When he first arrived, Eastler said the traveling and Greece’s altitude tired him out the first few days. But eventually, the Air Force Academy graduate’s training helped him get back into a rhythm.

To compete against the best racewalkers in the world and keep his cool in the summer’s heat, Eastler has been going through short workouts and getting plenty of rest for today’s race.

“It’s warm outside for sure,” said Eastler. “I don’t think the times will be as fast as the World Championships last year. I want to go out and maintain the same pace.”

Eastler thinks the hot climate will prevent racewalkers from making a quick start out of the gate. And that’s why he’s “a little bit nervous” about the humid conditions.

But after two years of training, Eastler is anxious to hear the starter’s gun and says all systems are go.

“Mentally, I am ready to go,” said Eastler. “Physically, I am feeling pretty good.”


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