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 from the start to win what is 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.
Athletes from China completed the podium, as Yin Hang finished in 4:08:58, an Asian record, to claim silver while 20-year-old Yang Shuqing finished with a personal best 4:20:49 to get the bronze.
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