Gold flush as Matej Toth wins first Slovak world title
Slovakian Matej Toth captured the world title in the men`s 50 kilometres walk on Saturday with a crushing victory as his rivals wilted under a brutal Beijing sun.
Beijing: Slovakian Matej Toth captured the world title in the men`s 50 kilometres walk on Saturday with a crushing victory as his rivals wilted under a brutal Beijing sun.
Toth, the European silver medallist, won the iron man event in 3 hours, 40 minutes 32 seconds, crossing the line at the Bird`s Nest stadium draped in a Slovakian flag to land his country`s first ever world championship gold.
"I feel like a champion," said Toth, who hugged his father after his emotional win. "I have to say that this 50km was maybe the easiest race of my whole life. I made history today. I was thinking about my two little daughters at home and my wife all the time."
The race favourite finished almost two minutes clear of Australian Jared Tallent and such was his total dominance that when he took a toilet break halfway through the walk, he still emerged from his pitstop with a whopping lead.
"I lost maybe 25 seconds there but it helped," said Toth. "I controlled my heartbeat, and there was a small group of Slovak fans cheering for me, that helped a lot.
"I want to keep this feeling and the memories of entering this beautiful stadium forever. I just hope I will to get to enjoy such a special moment at least once more in my life."
Japan`s Takayuki Tani clocked 3:42:55 for bronze to break Japan`s medal drought in China.
Toth, 32, a journalist by trade and a former Slovakian athlete of the year, tossed away his cap over the second half of the race and sped up to build on his massive early lead after nipping into a toilet cubicle after 30km.
"I`m very, very pleased about this medal," said Tallent, who finished 26th in last weekend`s 20km race. "It`s not the gold medal I wanted but to come second behind Matej, I`m delighted. I need to be better prepared and fitter for Rio next year."
Ireland`s defending champion Robert Heffernan finished fifth in a season`s best 3:44:17, a fine achievement after struggling with niggling injuries throughout the year.
Hiroki Arai, second in the world ranking behind Toth this year, took fourth behind fellow Japanese Tani.
The walking and marathon events are being contested in punishing heat but under unusually clear, blue skies after Beijing closed factories and halved the number of cars on the road to help reduce the city`s notorious air pollution.
China celebrated a first gold medal of the competition when women`s world record holder Liu Hong won Friday`s 20km walk.