Colombia claims its first gold of the Championships, while there’s disqualification disappointment for Britain’s Tom Bosworth
One moment Tom Bosworth was leading the world 20km final in home soil with daylight on his rivals. The next he was crouched on the roadside with his head in his hands, distraught at being disqualified.
As the 27-year-old’s dream turned into reality, he looked inconsolable and the hearts of thousands of people who had come to support him in The Mall sank.
Then unique festival of walks on the most famous piece of real estate in Britain was an amazingly glamorous setting that this Cinderella sub-section of athletics had never experienced before. Buckingham Palace was at one end of the 2km circuit and Admiralty Arch at the other and Bosworth was the star attraction and host nation hope everyone had turned up to see.
It was all going so well too. The sun was shining brilliantly overhead and Bosworth had established a small lead in his rivals just after halfway.
But the warning signs were there as he’d already been flagged for lifting. Watching the race on The Mall it was hard to tell how many times he’d been warned and even Bosworth seemed unsure.
So when a judge stepped out just before 12km to stop him in his tracks it was a cruel shock and bitter disappointment, reducing him to his knees as ripples of groans cascaded down The Mall as the news broke.
“I felt great, I felt in control, I was testing the pace myself,” said Bosworth, who had composed himself by the time he reached the interviews area. “So it shows I’m fit enough. But, you know, that’s race walking. Technique has to go with fitness and today I was going at a speed I’ve never ever gone before.”
He continued: “I’m already running through things in my head that I should do differently next time, but there are so many positives to take. I can mix with those guys, the best in the world, so there’s no problem about that.
“It’s just heart-wrenching because you are not allowed to finish your race and I felt like I was only getting going. I know in my races from 10-13km it’s a real tough part for my body. So I thought, ‘work hard and you’ll put yourself in another position for another top eight’ – and that’s what I did. But I just couldn’t technically keep it together.”
He added: “It’s my first DQ in four-and-a-half years, so I’m gutted it’s happened here on The Mall. My fitness has moved on. It’s really exciting for years to come. Every best athlete has been disqualified and had bad days, that’s why the good days feel so damn good.”
With British medal hopes dashed, the race carried on and Eider Arevalo took control, surging away to win in a Colombian record of 78:53.
“It was a complicated competition but I was prepared physiologically and physically,” said Arevalo, who gave his country their first gold of the championships following triple jumper Caterine Ibarguen’s near miss in the triple jump. “In the last 4km I decided to make it quicker and ultimately the last kilometre was decisive.”
In second, Russian Sergey Shirobokov, competing under a neutral flag and aged only 18, was two seconds behind with Caio Bonfim third in a Brazilian record of 79:04.
“I am so young,” said the Russian teenager. “These are my first world championships so I’m so glad to win this medal. I wanted to win the gold but I couldn’t today.
“My goal was to compete for other Russian athletes who have been banned. It was a great motivation to be here. I wanted to win for them.
“I was lacking competition experience but when I saw the other competitors I saw they were just normal people, nothing to be worried about.”
Another youngster and the British No.2, Callum Wilkinson, finished 41st in 83:54.
“It was really tough out there today, not quite the performance I had hoped,” he said. “I was in a lot better shape than that, but an amazing experience for me to be out there at a home championships with one of the biggest crowds I think we’ve ever had is phenomenal, so a lot of lessons to be taken away from today.
“I’m not really a nervous guy, I just wanted to get in amongst it. My plan was to get stuck in from the off and hide away in the front pack and just get pulled along, but it was a world-class field from the very start, so by 8km I was really starting to feel it and these guys were just pulling away from me.”
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