DOHA (Reuters) – Toshikazu Yamanishi of Japan took gold in the men’s 20km race walk at the world athletics championships on Saturday, making him a favourite on home roads at next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
In the sizzling heat and humidity of the Qatari night, Yamanishi had a comfortable lead for the second half of the race, crossing the finish line in one hour 26 minutes and 34 seconds.
Vasily Mizinov, a Russian authorised to compete as a neutral athlete, closed up on Yamanishi towards the end of the race, finishing 15 seconds behind him.
Perseus Karlstrom took the bronze by clocking a time of one hour and 27 minutes, giving Sweden its first race walking medal at the world championships since 1991.
Several walkers did not finish the race on Doha’s famous Corniche promenade, which started at 23:30 to minimise the harmful effects of the heat on competitors.
Yamanishi’s medal completed a double for Japanese male race walkers in Doha after Yusuke Suzuki won gold in the 50km event earlier in the championships.
The extreme conditions walkers faced in Doha will provide useful training and tactics for the Tokyo Olympics, where the heat and humidity are expected to be similar.
(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber, editing by Ed Osmond)