Australian Jared Tallent wins Olympic silver medal in the 50km walk in Rio

  • Australian led with two kilometres to go but faded late in title defence
  • Australian medal hopes crash out of contention at the BMX track

London gold medalist Jared Tallent has fallen just short of defending his Olympic title, claiming a silver mdeal in a dramatic finish to the 50km walk at the Rio Games. The Australian favourite established a lead after 39km of the much-anticipated race and stretched it to 24 seconds with only five minutes remaining but couldn’t hold off Slovakian Matej Toth.

It wasn’t until the final stages of the event that Toth made his big move, passing the Australian with two kilometres to walk and taking it by 18 seconds as Tallent ran out of legs. The Slovakian took gold in 3:40.58 while Tallent crossed the line in 3:41.16 for silver.

Hirooki Arai of Japan took bronze behind Tallent, but not before he was disqualified and then controversially reinstated following an appeal. That left Canada’s Evan Dunfee out of the medals but the winner of many new admirers when he refused to launch an appeal of his own, later stating that he couldn’t have slept with a clear conscience if he had done so.

“I really wanted it, I thought I had it,” Tallent said after the race. “I probably got a bit too excited. I was feeling really good. I was patient all throughout the race and just when I needed to be a little bit more patient I went for it and took off at 40km and I really thought I had it but I just ran out of legs with about four kilometres to go.”

“I saw Matej coming and I was trying to do everything I could to hold on. I really wanted to come down to that finish line in first place. I gave it everything I just had nothing left”.

Tallent now has one gold, two silver and one bronze to show for his three Olympic campaigns, the greatest haul of any Australian athletics competitor at Olympic level.

Elsewhere in Rio, Su Oh shot 66 to keep Australia in the medal hunt in the women’s golf, where she sits five shots off medal contention with fellow Australian Minjee Lee. Oh carded six birdies in the third round while Lee, who started the day four shots off the lead, had to recover from a disastrous start to stay in contention.

“The back nine is playing so much tougher than the front nine,” said Oh. “When I finished five under for the day after the first nine I was obviously hoping for a few more birdies. But then I felt that birdies were not really an option – I thought “just get it up and onto the green safely and two-putt home”.

The news was not so good at the BMX track, where Australia’s medal hopes were dashed overnight. Caroline Buchanan and Lauren Reynolds missed the women’s final after crashes in their semi-final runs took them out of contention, while men’s pair Sam Willoughby and Anthony Dean finished sixth and eighth respectively after dominating earlier in the competition.

“Obviously disappointed, I won every lap this weekend, but stumbled at the last hurdle,” Willoughby said afterwards. “It was a mistake of my own, I dragged my wheel over the back of the first jump and lost my speed. And that was that.

“But I have been on the good end of this sport many times, it is just the way it goes. I have had days where I have been at the back all day, and you just get yourself up for the last lap, and you’re a hero. It goes both ways.”


Guardian sport and agencies

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