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Chinese race walker Luo claims title at emotional Olympic trials

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-03-22 15:08
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Chinese race walker Luo Yadong. [Photo/Xinhua]

HUANGSHAN, China -- Chinese race walker Luo Yadong finally earned the chance to compete in the 50-kilometer event at the Olympic Games for the first time, after he took victory here on Sunday at the 2021 Chinese National Championships, which also served as a trial event ahead of the Tokyo Games.

29-year-old Luo, who finished fifth at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, seized the lead in the late stages of the race and sealed the victory in three hours, 46 minutes, 51 seconds, after which he burst into tears in the mixed zone.

"Competing in the Olympic Games is a dream for me. I really cherish this opportunity. It was really a tough race today. During the last two laps I was walking with leg cramps. I feel very happy I finally made it," Luo said.

"There may not be 50km event in future Olympic Games or World Championships. Each race might be the last one for me in this distance. I need to do my best and not leave any regrets. As for the Tokyo Olympic Games, I will try to vie for a podium finish," he added.

2019 World Military Games champion Wang Qin clocked 3:47:35 to finish second. The final Olympic slot went to Bian Tongda, who finished in 3:47:56.

Tears were also seen on Wang and Bian's faces as well after they finished the exhausting 25-lap competition.

The men's 50km race walk has been replaced with a mix-gender relay event for the 2024 Paris Olympics Games. As for the next edition of the World Athletics Championships, the 50km events will also be replaced by 35km events.

In a previous interview with Xinhua, World Athletics president Sebastian Coe revealed that the governing body is looking at "modernizing and helping race walk remain relevant and giving it the very best platform".

"We agreed that we should race over distances from 10km through to 30km," Coe said, adding that 30km might be the longest distance in the future World Championships and Olympic Games.

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