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Rediff.com  » Sports » World C'ships: Race walker Diniz becomes oldest world champion at 39

World C'ships: Race walker Diniz becomes oldest world champion at 39

August 13, 2017 20:32 IST

A round-up of all the results from the 16th World Athletic Championships in London

Yohann Diniz of France celebrates winning the gold medal in the men’s 50 km walk at London Stadium in Britain on Sunday

IMAGE: Yohann Diniz of France celebrates winning the gold medal in the men’s 50 km walk at London Stadium in Britain on Sunday. Photograph: Matthew Childs

Yohann Diniz produced an astonishing solo tour de force to become the oldest man ever to become a world athletics champion at the age of 39 as he won the 50 kilometre walk title on Sunday.

The French world record holder, one of the great figures of race walking, produced the second fastest walk in history, 3 hours 33 minutes 12 seconds -- a time only he has bettered -- with one of the performances of the entire World Championships.

Diniz was so dominant en route to his long-awaited first global title that he lapped nearly all the 43-strong field over the 2km looped circuit on The Mall, finishing less than a minute adrift of his three-year-old world record of 3:32:33.

He was even able to take a swift comfort break when leading in the first 15 minutes before rejoining the race and destroying his opponents over the 25 laps between Admiralty Arch and BuckinghamPalace.

A great showman, father of two Diniz was even able to smile and wave to the crowds lining the course well before the finish as he landed a third gold of the championships for France.

He blew kisses towards Buckingham Palace on the last circuit, turning it into a glorified lap of honour, and approached the line while making a scarf out of a tricolour he had grabbed from the crowd before then hoisting it aloft to celebrate his new championship record.

He had only one moment of concern when he received a red card for an infringement at about the 20km mark.

"I started having doubts but in training, we have been doing lots of changes of rhythms, so I just kept going.

"I got a card too and I thought 'I just must not mess this up.' I just concentrated completely on my technique.

"Last night I kept away from watching the athletics on TV because I did not want to get too excited. I went to bed at nine because I knew it was going to be my day!"

His eight-minute gap over his two distant Japanese pursuers, silver medallist Hirooki Arai (3:41:17) and bronze medallist Kai Kobayashi (3:41:19), was by far the biggest ever recorded in the championships.

Diniz became the oldest male world champion in any event, surpassing another walker, 37-year-old Veniamin Soldatenko. The Soviet athlete won a specially-staged 50km event in Malmo in 1976, seven years before Helsinki staged the first global championships.

Belarussian Ellina Zvereva holds the overall record of being the oldest world champion, having won the women's discus in 2001 at the age of 40.

Henriques breaks own world record to win women's 50km title

Ines Henriques of Portugal crosses the finish line to win the gold medal in the 50km walk on Sunday

IMAGE: Ines Henriques of Portugal crosses the finish line to win the gold medal in the 50km walk on Sunday. Photograph: Matthew Childs/Reuters

Ines Henriques smashed her own world record by more than two minutes to win the inaugural women’s 50 kilometre race walk at the World Championships on Sunday.

The 37-year-old crossed the finishing line at The Mall in 4 hours, 5 minutes and 56 seconds, obliterating her previous best of 4:08:26 which she set in January after the IAAF ratified conditions for a women’s 50km record.

Henriques dominated the race to win her first major global title, and the first race walking title to go to a Portuguese woman.

Draped in the flag of her country, she was embraced after the finishing line by a member of her team and cheered generously by the crowds lined up all the way down from BuckinghamPalace.

"It is great that the 50km is at the World Championships despite the fact that it is a really hard event," Henriques told reporters.

"The last 5kms were really tough. My goal was to go under 4 hours and 6 minutes, so I am really happy with this time.

"It felt like at home in London with so many Portuguese fans supporting me. I hope that in future we will see more women competing at this distance."

Athletes from China completed the podium. Yin Hang claimed silver with an Asian record of 4:08:58, while 20-year-old Yang Shuqing finished third with a personal best of 4:20:49.

The conditions were near-perfect for the athletes, who were competing at the same time as the men, with bright sunshine, clear skies and a cool breeze.

The IAAF introduced the women’s 50km to the programme in July in order to ensure gender equality.

Yang takes 20km walk gold in dramatic finish on Mall

Yang Jiayu raced to gold in a thrilling finish to the 20km walk at the World Athletics Championships on Sunday but her compatriot Lyu Xiuzhi learned she had been dramatically disqualified when metres away from winning the bronze medal.

Yang upped the pace over the last 100 metres on the Mall to power away from Mexico's Maria Guadalupe Gonzalez and finish a mere one second clear in 1 hours 26 minutes 18 seconds, a superb triumph for the 21-year-old in her maiden senior championship.

Yet Lyu, perhaps favourite for the title, did not realise she had already received a third red card for a late infringement -- meaning automatic disqualification -- as she was still racing home just behind Gonzalez.

As she was less than 20 metres from the line believing the bronze medal was in her grasp, a race official stepped out in front of her to confirm her disqualification.

It meant that Antonella Palmisano, who had been broken by the leading trio just as they started the last of the 10 two kilometre loops between Admiralty Arch and BuckinghamPalace on The Mall came home for the bronze in 1:26.36, Italy's first medal of the championships.

The result was tough on former boxer Gonzalez, who had also missed out on gold at last year's Rio Olympics by just two seconds.

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