Italy’s Massimo Stano secured gold in the 20km race walk in a thrilling contest at Tokyo 2020.
The incredible 30°C heat played its part in a gruelling race in Sapporo with the race walk going right down to the final kilometre.
Tom Bosworth was well off the pace in the first half of the race, with China’s Wang enjoying the narrowest of leads at the mid-way point.
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There was just three seconds between Wang and the chasing pack, which included Spain’s Alvaro Martin, Italy’s Stano, Japan’s Toshikazu Yamanishi and another Spaniard Diego Garcia.
Home favourite Yamanishi was the first to make his move and got himself in front and with just six kilometres left it was anyone’s race.
With Bosworth still languishing, GB team-mate Callum Wilkinson made a big push to try and break into the top ten.
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The leading pack remained close together and they were joined by Japan’s Koki Ikeda and China’s Zhang Jun in the final 5km.
With the finishing line almost in sight, Stano upped the tempo which saw Chinese duo Zhang and Wang begin to fade from the leading group.
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It was now Yamanishi’s turn to test his rivals and there was yellow flags being issued across the group as the pace stepped up again.
Stano saw off Yamanishi’s challenge and there was now some serious distance between the chasing pack and the leading trio of Yamanishi, Stano and Ikeda.
The home crowd were willing the Japanese duo on in the final 2km, but it was still Stano ever so slightly in front and there was now a gap developing between the top two and Yamanishi in third.
The final kilometre finally saw Stano put some daylight between him and Ikeda and the Italian crossed the line in 1:21:05 to claim the gold.
Ikeda took silver just nine seconds behind him and there was also a bronze medal for Japan as Yamanishi finished in third. Stano waited at the finish line for the silver and bronze medalists to cross, giving Yamanishi a big hug.
But there was great news for Team GB as Wilkinson’s second-half assault saw him finish in tenth just over a minute and a half behind the gold medal winner. Bosworth finished the race walk in 25th position.
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