Aug 27, 2015 11:04 PM
China finally gets gold when Liu Hong wins worlds 20K walk
The Associated Press
BEIJING (AP) China finally earned its first gold medal of the world championships on Friday with Liu Hong leading a 1-2 finish ahead of teammate Lu Xiuzhi in the 20-kilometer walk.
Despite the early-morning start, tens of thousands of home fans packed the stands in the Bird's Nest to welcome home the walkers and cheer their first victory as the championships headed into the final weekend.
In a tight finish after they walked together almost the whole race, Liu barely edged Lu, with both finishing in 1 hour, 27 minutes, 45 seconds. The pair then fell into each other's arms and soaked up the adoration of the crowd with the red Chinese flag hanging over their shoulders.
Lyudmyla Olyanovska of Ukraine took bronze, 28 seconds behind.
China has come close before, but three silvers have left the crowds disappointed. There never was any doubt they would go one better in the walk.
Liu, the world-record holder, came in as the favorite, with Lu also a contender. Combined with the absence of the usually strong Russians, who did not bring a team in the wake of a doping scandal, the Chinese were the ones to beat.
As host nation of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the Chinese did not win a gold medal at the Bird's Nest.
In the men's decathlon, Olympic champion Ashton Eaton immediately made it clear he wants to defend his world title, winning the 100 meters in a championship decathlon record of 10.23 seconds for an early lead.
There were four more events on Friday before the competition wraps up on Saturday.
In other finals later Friday, Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands will be looking to break the stranglehold of Jamaica on the sprints in the women's 200. Usain Bolt won both the men's 100 and 200 and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce took the women's 100. Schippers took silver in the 100 and Fraser-Pryce is not running the longer distance this year.
Her task was made easier when Allyson Felix skipped her favorite event to concentrate on the 400 instead, where she won a ninth world championship gold medal on Thursday.
After rebounding following a poor start to the championships, the Americans are strong favorites to get gold in the 100-meter hurdles, with four qualifiers in the final.
Raf Casert can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/rcasert