Olga Kaniskina of Russia claimed the title of women's 20-kilometer walk race at the Beijing Olympics in teeming rain on Thursday morning.
Russia's Kaniskina Olga competes during women's 20km walk final during Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, Aug. 21, 2008. Kaniskina Olga finished the race in first places. [Guo Yong/Xinhua]
Kaniskina, led an amazing fast race that saw the first 12 finishers clock an Olympic record, finished the course in one hour, 26 minutes and 31 seconds, two minutes 29 seconds faster than the former Olympic record set by Chinese Wang Liping in Sydney in 2000.
"The rain had no influence on me. It was better than a sunny and hot day. I was in good condition," said Kaniskina, "I didn't feel it was very slippery."
Sydney Olympic silver medalist Kjersti Tysse Platzer of Norway finished 36 seconds behind Kaniskina to take the silver medal and then she almost took the same time to find a Norway flag in the stadium for celebration. Elisa Rigaudo of Italy won the bronze in 1:27.12.
"I started my Olympic career with silver and I'm ending my Olympic career with a silver," smiled Platzer, "I felt good from the beginning, although it was very fast. Today I thought, I'll take the chance and if I blow it at the end, I don't care."
"The rain was coming down hard, but it made no difference because it was on everyone. For endurance athletes, rain doesn't matter," she added.
2007 world champion Kaniskina took the 20-second lead before leaving the Bird's Nest at the start of the race and dominated the whole course until finished it in an Olympic record.
China's Liu Hong, who finished 19th at last year's world championship, came home in fourth place but was not enough for a medal.
"It is too fast, I want to catch up in the late surge, but they are too fast for me," said Liu, "It is a little pity that I didnt' finish in top three, but I finished with my personal best. It's great."
The heavy rain affected the morning schedule as slippery conditions forced organizers to delay the women's high jump and men's javelin qualifying round. But the decathlon got under way, American favorite Bryan Clay taking an early lead with a 100 meters run in 10.44 seconds for 989 points.
Factbox on women's 20km walk race champion Olga Kaniskina
Name: Olga Kaniskina
Date of birth: 19 Jan, 1985
Height: 1.60 meters
Olympic performance: one hour 26 minutes 31 seconds
Gold at 2007 World Championships, Osaka, Japan
Silver at 2006 European Championships, Gothenburg, Sweden
Gold at 2008 World Race Walking Challenge, Cheboksary, Russia
Gold at 2007 World Race Walking Challenge, Saransk, Russia
(Xinhua News Agency August 21, 2008)