LONDON: Russian Yelena Lashmanova overhauled compatriot Olga Kaniskina in a thrilling final few metres to win the Olympic women’s 20-km walk in a world record time of one hour 25 minutes two seconds yesterday.
Kaniskina, who had held the lead from the start, took the silver seven seconds behind and China’s Qieyang Shenjie was third for the bronze medal.
“During most of the race, I was at such a distance from the lead that I was losing heart but at each lap my trainer to keep calm, to keep quiet, to press on and not give up,” Lashmanova, competing in only her third 20-km race, told reporters.
“I continued and at the last lap, I saw the others were tired and falling behind so I accelerated and took my chance. But not until I crossed the line did I think I would get a medal.”
Three-times world champion Kaniskina had been aiming to become the first woman to retain the 20-km walk title but crossed the line in obvious pain and was limping as she congratulated her younger team mate.
“I wish I’d walked a bit faster at the finish line,” said Kaniskina.
“It wasn’t very lucky for me to lose the race at the last minute. I am very pleased for my team mate though, she deserved it.”
Kaniskina, 27, went to the front from the start, quickly followed by world silver medallist Liu Hong and the pair pulled away but the Chinese could not keep up with her rival’s punishing pace and began to drop behind after eight km.
She had been caught by a chasing group of three at 14km.
The 20-year-old Lashmanova made her break after 16km, dropping Qieyang and had Kaniskina in her sights for the final lap of the two-km course.
Liu was fourth and Russian Anisya Kirdyapkina, whose husband Sergey Kirdyapkin won the men’s 50km earlier in the day was fifth.