Gold for China as women's walk makes farcical debut
Wang Liping of China won the inaugural women's 20 km walk gold at the Sydney Olympics on Thursday after a race which degenerated into high farce.
Wang won in a time of one hour 29 minutes five seconds after the three walkers in front of her were disqualified in the closing stages after each had been ahead.
Australian Jane Saville was the last to be thrown out just as she entered the stadium, immediately bursting into tears.
Like the two others disqualifed earlier, Saville was leading and, in fact, entering Stadium Australia 14 seconds ahead of the eventual winner, when she received her third and final warning for lifting her feet, and was immediately disqualified.
Saville broke down in tears with her disqualification allowing China's Wang Liping to claim the gold medal.
Under walking rules, competitors must have a part of a foot on the ground at all times.
Saville walked aimlessly around the Stadium, shaking off attempts by Australian officials and spectators to console her.
The tragedy in this instance was that Saville, clearly leading, needed only to enter the Stadium and walk down the 200m track to win.
Norway's Kjersti Plaetzer took silver and Spain's Maria Vasco the bronze.
Liu Hongyu of China, the world and Asian Games champion, and Elisabetta Perrone, a silver medallist in the 1996 Olympics 10 km event, were earlier disqualified for failing to maintain continuous contact with the ground. Each was in the lead when the disqualification came.
All of which makes a sorry beginning to the event just making its debut in Sydney.
Additional reporting from the Rediff Team
Mail your comments