Poland’s David Tomala won gold in the men’s 50km race walk at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 in a time of 3:50:08 in only his second race over the distance.
The 31-year-old Polish race walker finished 36 seconds ahead of Germany’s Jonathan Hilbert, whose time was 3:50:44.
Canada’s Evan Dunfee, 30, won bronze in a season best time of 3:50:59.
“It was an amazing day for me. I can’t believe it,” said Tomala.
“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.
“At first I thought (I wanted to win Olympic gold in the) 20km, but this year changed everything.
“I competed over 50km in Dudince. This was only the second 50km in my life and I win it (the Olympic title). It is crazy, right?”
The Olympic record holder Jared Tallent of Australia, who medalled in the 50km walk at the Olympics in Beijing, London and Rio, didn’t make it to the start line in Sapporo Odori Park after injury forced him to announce his retirement at the age of 36.
The withdrawal of one of the favourites blew the race wide open for the field that included the world record holder Yohann Diniz of France.
LUO Yadong of People’s Republic of China was the early front-runner, leading for the majority of the first 20 kilometres of the race.
But, by the halfway point he was reeled in by the chasing pack and dropped to 17th place.
Tomala took the lead after the 30km mark and didn’t look back.
The Polish race walker’s injection of pace proved decisive. It took away from the rest of the field, building up a commanding lead more than three minutes with 10 kilometres to go.
At the 45km mark, Tomala was still comfortably ahead, but there was a battle on for the silver medal.
Germany’s Jonathan Hilbert and Spain’s Marc Tur had separated themselves from the rest of the chasing group and were shoulder to shoulder as the paced the streets.
But in the closing stages, Tur started to fade, and Hilbert moved away into second place.
Meanwhile, Dunfee, bronze medallist at the 2019 world championships, moved through the field from sixth to fourth.
And as the finish line approached, the Canadian reeled in Hilbert, passing him to take the bronze.
This is Canada’s first ever Olympic medal in the 50km race walk.
The bronze medal is redemption for Dunfee, who narrowly missed the podium in Rio in 2016.
In a move like the one he carried out in this race, Dunfee made a move for third place against Japanese race walker HIROOKI Arai. As the pair battled for the medal they bumped and Dunfee finished third, but he was demoted to fourth after an appeal by the Japanese team.
“My body gave me everything today. It is more than I could ever ask for,” said Dunfee explaining his surge into third place.
“My hamstring wasn’t happy with me that last six to eight k (kilometres). I kept asking for a little more, and it just kept saying, this is all you have.
“Coming around that last bend I asked for a little bit more. I just asked my body to give me everything it had and I was able to dig deep and get it.
“I don’t need a medal to validate myself. I’m proud of what I accomplished today, but I have been dreaming of this moment and winning this medal for 21 years. I am over the moon.”
“Hopefully, today means we can stop talking about Rio,” he added.