Spain’s Miguel Angel Lopez broke Chinese hearts to win the men’s 20 kilometres walk at the world championships on Sunday.(Mo Farah Creates History)
Olympic bronze medallist Wang Zhen had looked set to claim the host country’s first gold medal in Beijing after bursting clear at the 13km mark, only for the European champion to relentlessly reel him in over the last five kilometres.(Ennis-Hill ReturnsÂ to Global Stage in Style)
Lopez, who took bronze in Moscow two years ago, turned on the power over the last two kilometres as his rivals wilted in the fierce morning heat, clocking a personal best of one hour, 19 minutes and 14 seconds.
Wang took silver as Asia’s wait for a first men’s world title in the 20km walk continues.
“This is the best moment in my life,” Lopez told reporters. “The course was difficult and complicated, plus the heat. My last 200m were an incredible sensation — I remembered all the people who have helped me.
“I hope that the people in Spain watched me at 3am in the morning,” he added. “They should see this unique moment of my life.”
Japan’s world record holder Yusuke Suzuki failed to finish, the hot gold medal favourite pulling out just after the halfway point in clear discomfort, blaming his problem on a pelvic injury.
“I felt pain from the start of the race,” said Suzuki. “After about seven or eight kilometres it really began to hurt. I tried to run through it but thought I might aggravate the problem so decided to stop.”
Wang, meanwhile, was met with a huge roar at Bird’s Nest stadium as he crossed the line in 1:19:29 while Canada’s Benjamin Thorne took bronze in a national record of 1:19:57.
“It got tough towards the end today,” said Wang after losing for the first time since May 2014. “I wasn’t relaxed enough. I felt some pressure with the race being in China but I don’t think it affected me. Hopefully I can do better at the Olympics next year.”
Ukraine’s Igor Glavan finished fourth with China’s Cai Zelin fifth, while Australia’s world university games champion Dane Bird-Smith placed eighth.
Olympic champion Chen Ding, who also won silver in Moscow, went out hard but was unable to maintain his early pace in the sweltering humidity and eventually finished ninth, giving China three walkers in the top 10.