Peruvian Kimberly Garcia Leon won the first gold medal of the World Championships on Friday in the 20 kilometres race walk in a time of 1:26:58 seconds, with Poland's Katarzyna Zdzieblo claiming silver and China's Qieyang Shijie taking bronze.
Qieyang and Garcia Leon shared a 20-second lead over the rest of the pack at the halfway mark and battled shoulder-to-shoulder through the next five kilometres under sunny, hot conditions.
But with three kilometres left to go, 28-year-old Garcia Leon pulled away from the 2012 Olympic champion, who took silver three years ago, and broke the tape before embracing a member of her team.
Four-time champion Liu Hong, who led a Chinese podium sweep three years ago in Doha and collected bronze in the 2020 Olympics last year, came up short, finishing fifth in 1:29:00.
Dominican Republic win 4x400 mixed relay, no golden goodbye for Felix
Allyson Felix was denied a golden goodbye at the World Championships after the United States took bronze behind Dominican Republic and Netherlands in a spectacular 4x400m mixed relay in Eugene, Oregon on Friday.
The home crowd had roared with delight as seven-times Olympic gold medallist Felix took the baton for the second leg though the 36-year-old, running in her final major championship race, appeared to tire down the stretch after a strong start.
The United States still managed to open a massive gap at the final changeover and looked well set for victory before Dominican anchor Fiordaliza Cofil reeled in Kennedy Simon down the home stretch to win gold and improve on their Tokyo silver.
"We have been training hard for this moment so I knew I could catch her," Cofil said of her battle with Simon.
"Allyson Felix is a legend and I am happy to be in the final with her."
Netherlands anchor Femke Bol produced an extraordinary effort down the home straight to come from 30m back and overtake Simon for silver, as the 2019 champions were forced to settle for bronze.
Felix embraced her team mates at the finish, 18 years after she picked up her first Olympic medal at the 2004 Athens Games, as the home crowd gave the most decorated woman in the sport a warm send-off into retirement.
"It was very special to be able to run in front of a home crowd for my last race," said Felix. "My daughter was in the stands. It was a night I will cherish."
While it was not the spot on the podium she had hoped for, the grand dame of American track was all smiles, draped in the U.S. flag as she took in the scene at Hayward Field.
"I've had such good memories. I know it is time and these guys will carry it on into the future," she said. "I am at peace stepping into this next stage and have tremendous gratitude for this sport."
The race capped the opening day of action in Eugene, where organisers failed to fill the stands for the first World Championships on U.S. soil as they look to build a bigger American fan base for the sport.
"Crowds tonight disappointing," American four-times Olympic gold medallist Michael Johnson tweeted. "This is not the ideal situation. Last race for Allyson Felix, icon of the sport and the stadium isn’t full?"