LONDON (Reuters) – Ines Henriques smashed her own world record by more than two minutes to win the inaugural women’s 50 kilometer race walk at the World Championships on Sunday.
The 37-year-old crossed the finishing line at The Mall in 4 hours, 5 minutes and 56 seconds, obliterating her previous best of 4:08:26 which she set in January after the IAAF ratified conditions for a women’s 50km record.
Henriques dominated the race to win her first major global title, and the first race walking title to go to a Portuguese woman.
Draped in the flag of her country, she was embraced after the finishing line by a member of her team and cheered generously by the crowds lined up all the way down from Buckingham Palace.
“It is great that the 50km is at the World Championships despite the fact that it is a really hard event,” Henriques told reporters.
“The last 5kms were really tough. My goal was to go under 4 hours and 6 minutes, so I am really happy with this time.
“It felt like at home in London with so many Portuguese fans supporting me. I hope that in future we will see more women competing at this distance.”
Athletes from China completed the podium. Yin Hang claimed silver with an Asian record of 4:08:58, while 20-year-old Yang Shuqing finished third with a personal best of 4:20:49.
The conditions were near-perfect for the athletes, who were competing at the same time as the men, with bright sunshine, clear skies and a cool breeze.
The IAAF introduced the women’s 50km to the program in July in order to ensure gender equality.
(Reporting by Christian Radnedge, editing by Pritha Sarkar)