Cape Times

Walker Diniz becomes oldest men’s champion

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

The French world record holder, one of the great figures of race walking, produced the second fastest walk in history, 3 hours 33 minutes 12 seconds – a time only he has bettered – with one of the performanc­es 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.

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.

A great showman, father of two Diniz was even able to smile and wave to the crowds lining the course well before the finish as he landed a third gold of the championsh­ips for France.

He blew kisses towards Buckingham Palace on the last circuit, turning it into a glorified lap of honour, and approached the line while making a scarf out of a tricolour he had grabbed from the crowd before then hoisting it aloft to celebrate his new championsh­ip record.

His eight-minute gap over his two Japanese pursuers, silver medallist Hirooki Arai (3:41:17) and bronze medallist Kai Kobayashi (3:41:19), was by far the biggest ever recorded in the 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.–Reuters

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