Moscow, Aug 14 (IANS) Robert Heffernan of Ireland broke the hosts' domination in race walking and claimed men's 50km title with a world leading time in the only final scheduled on day five of the IAAF World Championships here Wednesday.
It was the first major title for the 35-year-old Heffernan, the fourth finisher in London Olympics last summer as he clocked 3 hours, 37 minutes and 56 seconds to finish the longest race at the World Championships, reports Xinhua.
It was also the first World Championship medal won by an Irish male athlete in exactly 30 years after Eamonn Coghlan burst off the final bend to win the 5000m at the Helsinki Worlds on Aug 14, 1983.
"That is brilliant. This victory is very important for me and for Ireland. It was not until I got into the stadium that I could relax and enjoy it. I was fourth last year in London, but this year I was not injured, I was in even better condition and I was very well prepared for this race. I knew I could do better today, I believed I could be the winner," said an emotional Heffernan.
"My wife is here with me and we are so happy! To win here is a dream come true. I loved the course and I really enjoyed the race. It was very tough but I tried to stay positive."
Russia's Mikhail Ryzhov, 21, clocked a personal best of 3:38:58, but failed to finish Russian walkers gold medal collection in Moscow as he was outwalked by Heffernan in a savage battle between 30km and 40km and had to settle with a silver.
"The plan for the race was just to focus on the pace, to make it even and try to finish strong. The course is very convenient, very flat. I managed to improve my personal best by around six minutes, so I'm very happy with the time and with the medal, of course. It's not that I lost the gold, I won the silver! It's just my third 50km race, so I just didn't have enough experience," Ryzhov said.
As a superpower in race walking, Russia collected all the three walk gold medals in Daegu Worlds in 2011. The hosts also claimed titles in men's and women's 20km races but failed to repeat the gold sweep in Moscow.
Two-time Olympic silver medallist Jared Tallent notched the bronze in 3:40:03, but the 28-year-old is longing for the gold.
India's Basanta Bahadur Rana finished 33rd. Rana was way down the field with 3:58.20, his season's best performance. Another Indian Sandeep Kumar was disqualified.