Sports & Entertainment
Russia's Kaniskina wins third world 20km walk title
  • | AFP | August 31, 2011 04:09 PM

Olympic champion Olga Kaniskina powered to an unprecedented third consecutive world women\'s 20km race walk title on Wednesday in punishing humidity in downtown Daegu.

Olympic champion Olga Kaniskina (pictured) powered to an unprecedented third consecutive world 20km race walk title in punishing humidity in downtown Daegu

The 26-year-old Russian raised her arms in triumph as she crossed the line in 1hr 29min 42sec, 18sec ahead of her nearest rival, China\'s Liu Hong, with Anisya Kirdyapkina of Russia taking bronze (1:30.13).

The Russian winner, who is also the reigning European champion, was quickly into her stride at the front of a large pack but her rivals could not match her searing pace as the race wore on and she struck out alone.

"I was satisifed because the supporters gave me lots of support and the course was flat. Of course the main goal was to win and that was fulfilled," she said.

"The plan was to go with the group for the first half and then to come out fast. But until the very end of the race I was not sure about my victory," she added.

Kaniskina said she maintains her hunger by forgetting about her growing haul of major titles.

"You always need motivation and I have this motivation because I am not thinking about the previous titles and gold medals. I\'m feeling like all the other race walkers without titles and medals," she said.

"That is my motivation and I want to win every competition I\'m taking part in," said Kaniskina, who added she was able to control the race by establishing a clear lead.

Silver medallist Liu, who said the humid conditions had been tough, added: "I was third in Berlin (2009 worlds). This is a great improvement. I am confident I can aim for gold at the London Olympics."

Kirdyapkina, married to defending men\'s 50km world champion Sergey Kirdyapkin, also said she struggled with the heavy air which made it "hard to breathe".

"I cannot predict whether my husband will grab a medal in the 50km event. We will see how he will adapt to the local conditions after his training camp. For sure, I will give him some advice," she added.

Earlier, Kaniskina and world record holder Vera Sokolova, also from Russia, were quickly at the front of a large pack on the 2km circuit course starting and finishing at the Gukchae-bosang Memorial Park in the South Korean city.

At the halfway point the pack had thinned considerably but there were still 13 athletes separated by just 1sec with Kaniskina in the lead in a time of 46min 16sec.

But soon after the 14km mark Kaniskina, world champion in 2007 and 2009, broke away and she had opened up a five-second gap over teammate Kirdyapkina with a quarter of the race to go.

Her victory never looked in doubt as she found the strength to forge a decisive lead over the last 5km.

Sokolova finished well down the field in 11th place in a time of 1:32.13.

Kaniskina\'s three consecutive world titles match the feat of Jefferson Perez of Ecuador, who won the men\'s 20km titles in 2003, 2005 and 2007.

The 20km walk was the only medal event on day five of the world championships, which is not featuring any track and field action.

Kaniskina\'s win lifts Russia to four golds in the championships, the same as medal table-toppers the United States.

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