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.
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"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)