Henriques breaks own WR to win women's 50km; Yin, Yang complete podium

Ines Henriques smashes her own world record by more than 2 minutes to win the inaugural women’s 50K race walk at the worlds with Yin Hang and Yang Shuqing also on the podium.

Runner-up Yin Hang (left) of China and gold medalist and world record holder Portugal's Ines Henriques pose after the women's 50-kilometer race walk event at the IAAF world championships on The Mall in central London on August 13, 2017.

Ines Henriques smashed her own world record by more than 2 minutes to win the inaugural women’s 50-kilometer race walk at the world championships in London on Sunday.

The 37-year-old crossed the finishing line at The Mall in 4 hours, 5 minutes and 56 seconds, obliterating her previous best of 4:08.26 which she set in January after the IAAF ratified conditions for a women’s 50km record.

Henriques dominated the race to win her first major global title, and the first race walking title to go to a Portuguese woman.

Draped in the flag of her country, she was embraced at the finishing line by a member of her team and cheered generously by the crowds lined up all the way down from Buckingham Palace.

"It is great that the 50km is at the world championships despite the fact that it is a really hard event," Henriques told reporters.

"The last 5kms were really tough. My goal was to go under 4 hours and 6 minutes, so I am really happy with this time.

"It felt like at home in London with so many Portuguese fans supporting me. I hope that in future we will see more women competing at this distance."

Athletes from China completed the podium. Yin Hang claimed silver with an Asian record of 4:08.58, while 20-year-old Yang Shuqing finished third with a personal best of 4:20.49.

The conditions were near-perfect for the athletes, who were competing at the same time as the men, with bright sunshine, clear skies and a cool breeze.

The IAAF introduced the women’s 50km to the program in July in order to ensure gender equality.

Earlier, Yohann Diniz produced an astonishing solo tour de force to become the oldest man ever to become a world athletics champion at the age of 39 as he won the 50km walk title.

The French world record holder, one of the great figures of race walking, produced the second fastest walk in history, 3:33.12 — a time only he has bettered — with arguably the performance of the entire world championships.

Diniz was so dominant en route to his long-awaited first global title that he lapped nearly all the 43-strong field over the 2km looped circuit on The Mall, finishing less than a minute adrift of his three-year-old world record of 3:32:33.


France's Yohann Diniz wins the men's 50km race walk at the IAAF world championships on The Mall in central London on August 13, 2017.

Comfort break

He was even able to take a swift comfort break when leading in the first 15 minutes before rejoining the race and destroying his opponents over the 25 laps between Admiralty Arch and Buckingham Palace.

A great showman, father of two Diniz was even able to smile and wave to the crowds lining the course well before the finish.

He blew kisses towards Buckingham Palace on the last circuit, turning it into a glorified lap of honor, and finished by approaching the line while hoisting aloft a French tricolor he had grabbed from the crowd to celebrate his new championship record.

His 8-minute gap over his two distant Japanese pursuers, silver medalist Hirooki Arai (3:41.17) and bronze winner Kai Kobayashi (3:41.19), was by far the biggest ever recorded in the championships.

Diniz became the oldest male world champion in any event, surpassing another walker, 37-year-old Veniamin Soldatenko. The Soviet athlete won a specially-staged 50km event in Malmo in 1976, seven years before Helsinki staged the first global championships.

Belarussian Ellina Zvereva holds the overall record of being the oldest world champion, having won the women's discus in 2001 at the age of 40.

Diniz's triumph, the first ever in race walking by a Frenchman, came a year after his heartbreak in the Rio Olympic final when he led by nearly 2 minutes before he collapsed at 37km with heatstroke, dehydration and gastric problems.

He was then hailed as a hero as he got up, insisted on continuing and, incredibly, finished the race in eighth place.

His familiar all-or-nothing approach, trying to break the field from the gun, had seen the three-time European champion Diniz miss out on global titles before but for a man also famed for being an expert in wine-making, this was a champagne moment.

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