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Sports

Frenchman Diniz wins 50km walk gold with championship record

media Yohann Diniz crosses the finish line to win the gold medal in 50km walk event. Matthew Childs/REUTERS

Yohann Diniz took the gold medal tally of France to three after winning the men’s 50 kilometres walk event at the athletics world championships in London on Sunday. The 39-year-old, whose previous best was a silver at the 2007 world championships, won the won the hold in his sixth attempt.

Diniz stamped his authority right from the start and took an early lead. He finished the course in 3hrs 33min 12sec, falling short of his world record mark registered at the 2014 European Championship. His time was still the second fastest time in history and a championship record.

Diniz said he had to pull himself together at one point when he received a warning.

“I started having doubts after 20km,” said Diniz.

“I got a card around 20km too and I thought, ‘I just must not mess this up’. I just concentrated completely on my technique.”

“A lot of training has gone into this -- cycling, swimming -- everything for this 50km walk. Last night I kept away from watching the TV because I did not want to get too excited. I went to bed at 9pm because I knew it was going to be my day today.”

Despite his advancing years, Diniz said he was likely to carry on and have one last tilt at winning the only major title that has eluded him – the Olympic gold.

“It is a lovely Sunday afternoon. I know you should never take any decision when you are hot,” he said.

“I am still missing one (title) and that is the Olympic one. It would be a nice way to finish in Tokyo.”

Japan’s Hirooki Arai came second and team-mate Kai Kobayashi took bronze, finishing eight minutes behind the winner.

The women's race made its debut at the championships – with just seven competitors – and was won by Ines Henriques of Portugal breaking her own world record, clocking 4hr 05min 56sec.

- with AFP

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