Italy’s Massimo Stano won the men’s 35km race walk at the World Athletics Championships in dramatic fashion on Sunday, edging Japan’s Masatora Kawano by one second.
Stano and Kawano battled shoulder-to-shoulder as the leading pair in the final 4km, but the Italian coped well with the pressure and accelerated in the final 300m to seal the gold medal.
Grabbing an Italian flag when he was on the final stretch, the 20km race walk Olympic champion finished in a time of 2:23:14, while Kawano sank to his knees in despair after crossing the line a second later.
“I can’t believe even if I won the Olympic gold. In theory, it would be easy to understand what happened today, but it is not,” Stano said.
“I am happy to win gold in a different distance and show that I can compete in other distances… Kawano did a great race. I had to change pace a few times to win today. He really tired me.”
Stano’s gold is Italy’s second medal at this year’s championships after Elena Vallortigara won bronze in the women’s high jump on Tuesday.
Kawano, the fastest race walker coming into Sunday’s event, had to settle for silver but the Japanese said he was happy, having suffered anaemia six months ago.
Sweden’s Perseus Karlstrom took the bronze, mirroring his achievement from the 20km race walk last week, and he was all smiles as he crossed the line wearing a blue-and-yellow Viking helmet.
Earlier, Japan’s Daisuke Matsunaga had looked well set for a medal when he led the race following an electric start but he ran out of gas after the 20km mark, eventually finishing 26th.
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