Poland's Tomala wins Olympic 50km race walk in only his second finish

Sapporo (Japan) (AFP) –


Poland's Dawid Tomala won the men's Olympic 50 kilometres race walk on Friday, defying the punishing morning heat in Sapporo to storm to victory in just the second event he has completed over the distance.

The 31-year-old crossed the line in 3 hours 50 minutes and 8 seconds, matching the achievement of compatriot Robert Korzeniowski, who won the event three times.

"I work for it my whole life since I was 15 when I thought for the first time during training I would like to be a (Olympic) gold medallist," said Tomala.

"At first I thought (I wanted to win Olympic gold in the) 20km, but this year changed everything. I competed over 50km in Dudince (Slovakia, where he finished fifth).

"This was only the second 50km in my life (he did not finish in a 50m race walk in Dudince in 2017) and I win it (the Olympic title). It is crazy, right?"

Germany's Jonathan Hilbert finished second, 36 seconds adrift, while Canada's Evan Dunfee matched his bronze at the 2019 world championships in Doha, crossing the line in 3:50:59.

The event is being dropped for the Paris 2024 Games in favour of a new mixed-gender event.

Organisers moved the race to Sapporo, around 700 miles (1,100 kilometres) north of Tokyo in an effort to avoid soaring summer temperatures in the Japanese capital but the mercury climbed to 33 degrees Celsius (91 degrees Fahrenheit) as the athletes entered the final hour and continued to rocket.

Spain's Jesus Angel Garcia, 51, finished 35th in his eighth Olympics. The former world champion made his debut in 1992 in Barcelona.