Liu Hong duly delivered host nation its first gold of the 15thIAAF Championships in today’s women’s 20km race walk, with team-mate Xiuzhi Luadding silver.
The result lifted China to seventh in the medals table with one gold, four silvers, and a bronze. Kenya leads the table from the United States, with six golds, three silvers, and two bronzes.
Liu, who broke the world record in June, made clear her determination to improve upon her bronze at the Moscow 2013 Championships right from the start as, in the scorching heat, she led the field out of the Bird’s Nest stadium and led it back in, accompanied by Xiuzhi.
After chatting briefly, the two Chinese walkers crossed the line virtually together, to mountainous applause. Both were credited with 1hr 27min45sec, but with victory going to the world record holder.
Ukraine’s Lyudmyla Olyanovska took bronze in 1:28.13.
It was a first world championship gold for Liu after bronze in 2009 and 2013 and silver in 2011.
AnezkaDrahotova of the Czech Republic paid the price for trying to keep pace with the Chinese pair over the first 5km, eventually dropping back to eighth place in1:30.32.
Chinese pair stretched their lead to 26 seconds at the halfway stage as they began lapping backmarkers on the 1km course loop.
Olyanovskahad reduced that to 21 seconds after 15km but the gap was too great to close.
Italy’sEleonora Giorgi had pushed for the bronze before being disqualified over the closing 5km.
Meanwhile, in the stadium, high jumper Guowei Zhang offered evidence of another Chinesemedal on its way as he qualified without difficulty with 2.31 for Sunday night’s final along with defending champion Bohdan Bondarenko of Ukraine and the man who leads this year’s rankings with 2.41, Mutaz Essenza Barshim of Qatar.