China duo walk tall as hosts claim first gold

Fri Aug 28, 2015 12:22am EDT
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By Gene Cherry

BEIJING (Reuters) - China picked up a first gold medal at their home world athletics championships when Liu Hong led Lu Xiuzhi across the line after the duo blew away the field in the women's 20 kilometer walk on Friday.

Both were given a rapturous reception as Liu crossed the line in the iconic Bird's Nest Stadium in a time of one hour 27 minutes and 45 seconds, fractionally ahead of compatriot Lu, with the duo having matched strides throughout the race.

The victory was also a first world championship gold for world record-holder Liu, having sandwiched a silver in 2011 between two bronzes in 2009 and 2013.

"I felt a lot of pressure. China hadn't yet won a gold medal in this championships in the previous days and everybody was waiting for it," Liu told reporters.

"I was well prepared. I have been training hard and I hoped that I could make it.

"I had three world medals before and now I finally got the gold. I can go now as a world champion to the Olympic Games in Brazil and this gives me confidence.

"Obviously in its hard to predict what will happen, the Russians were not here, but I hope that we will take the gold at the Olympics."

Liu and Lu entered the stadium in conversation and embraced after the line before going on a lap of honor together.   Continued...

Liu Hong of China (L) celebrates with Lu Xiuzhi of China after winning the women's 20 km race walk final during the 15th IAAF World Championships at the National Stadium in Beijing, China August 28, 2015.   REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson