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Italy's Alex Schwazer claims 50 km walk gold

Latest update : 2008-08-22

Italian walker Alex Schwazer won the men's 50 kilometres walk, setting a new Olympic record. Jared Tallent of Australia and Russia's Denis Nizhegorodov got silver and bronze respectively.



Alex Schwazer of Italy won the men's 50 kilometres walk here on Friday to deny Russia a cleansweep of the Olympic walk titles.
The 23-year-old two time world medallist broke the 20 year-old Olympic record as he timed 3hours 37minutes and nine seconds to take gold ahead of 20km bronze medalist Jared Tallent of Australia, who had a personal best of 3hr 39:27, while Russia's silver medalist from 2004, Denis Nizhegorodov, won the bronze in 3hr 40.14.
Schwazer celebrated all the way down the finishing straight, kissing the Italian national colours on his shirt as he entered the stadium.
"It was a very emotional moment," he said.
"I wanted to do well today and I had the right mentality."
Tallent, who finished in a much better state than he had the 20km where he had been physically sick in the straight and after finishing, was ecstatic.
"The 50km medal means so much more to me," said Tallent, who is due to marry his fiancee and fellow international walker Claire Woods after the Games.
"Sometimes you can feel bad starting off, but then you improve. I was worried I'd get to the 20km and say 'oh jeez'," added Tallent, who more than made up for the absence of the injured world champion Nathan Deakes.
Nizhegorodov was devastated at not turning the silver of four years ago into gold in Beijing.
"I feel very disappointed. It's such a pity."
The race was down to five men at the 20 km mark with Tallent, Schwazer, China's Li Jianbo, who was appearing in his first global championships, Nizhegorodov and France's European champion Yohann Diniz slightly adrift in fifth.
However, by the halfway mark Diniz was losing ground all the time and was some 26sec behind the leading quartet, having lost 20sec in the last 5km - Tallent led the lead group.
Diniz, who was heavily favoured to at the very least medal, came to a virtual standstill after just over 2hrs, but having looked like calling it a day the former rave party organiser and wine expert tried to get going again.
He was still fifth at the 30km mark but his temporary stop had cost him dearly as he was now almost two minutes behind the lead group, all hopes of a medal gone. He eventually pulled out a short distance further on.
"I just cracked mentally and physically at around the 27th or 29th kilometre mark," said Diniz.
"I thought that I would be able to come back, but I couldn't.
"There is no such thing as giving up in my mind and I will come back in four years time because this event gives me such pleasure."
Up ahead the quartet of leaders had the medal fight to themselves - the two questions remaining was who was going to have the strength to take the gold and who was going to be the unlucky one not to medal.
The latter question was settled when Schwazer, Tallent and Nizhegorodov upped the pace and shook off Li.
Schwazer bided his time and then pounced to make what he hoped was the decisive break for gold at around the 42km mark and with five kilometres to race he had a relatively comfortable 40sec lead over Tallent and Nizhegorodov.
Tallent, who had blasted the Russian 20km winner Valeriy Borchin because of his being a stablemate of several walkers who had failed dope tests, ditched Nizhegorodov shortly after the 45km mark and quickly opened up an unassailable lead over the Russian.
Schwazer was so confident that he had the gold he raised his finger to illustrate he was number one as he passed some cheering Italian fans. He was not to be proved wrong.

Date created : 2008-08-22