Michael Gleeson August 11, 2012
Jared Tallent celebrates after crossing the finish line to win silver in the men's 50-kilometre race walk. Photo: Reuters
Valiant efforts at Olympic glory resulted in very different outcomes for two of Canberra’s biggest medal hopes at the London Olympic Games yesterday, with walker Jared Tallent snaring a silver in the men’s 50-kilometre race, while BMX race favourite Caroline Buchanan fell short of the podium.
"For the rest of our lives, it's going to be a good and bad day," said Tallent, after his wife's devastating disappointment in the walking. "She works harder than me. I couldn't do it without her and she spends so much time helping me. Often she forgets about herself so it's devastating not to get the great result that she's capable of."
The Olympics are an arena where great pleasure walks hand-in-hand with great pain.
Just as he did in Beijing, Tallent claimed silver in the 50-kilometre walk in a new personal best time, falling achingly short of being able to haul himself into the Olympic gold that continues to escape him.
In three of the last four walks raced at the Olympics Tallent has now won a medal – yesterday’s silver coming after he also won silver in the same event in Beijing and his bronze in the 20km walk in China. He finished seventh in the 20km walk earlier in the week.
Tallent cut more than two minutes from his personal best finishing in 3 hours 36 minutes 53 seconds. Pumping his fists, giving the thumbs up and smiling, Talent relaxed into the silver medal through the last kilometre realising his bold bid to overaul the champion Russian walker Sergey Kirdyapkin had fallen short. With five kilometres to go he was 26 seconds down on the leader but he eased back to eventually finish 54 seconds behind the winner who set a new Olympic record.
Tallent had walked a patient race, content to sit in the pack neither in the lead group nor completely out of it, but comfortable with his pacing that he waited until the 35km mark when he lifted his pace and surged to rein in the leading pack of China’s Si Tiangfeng and a trio of Russians.
He moved into third place with about seven kilometres to go then pushed straight up on to Si who had made his move earlier to overtake the Russians and push himself in to a strong lead that ultimately proved unsustainable. The 50-kilometre walk is a grinding event that does not entertain surges of folly.
Tallent, despite his personal best, will now wonder what more he could have done to take gold. Could he have gone earlier to give himself more time to break down Kirdyapkin? Or would he too have blown up if he tried to lift the pace too early. That was what happened in Daegu at the world championships when he had the choice of safeguarding second or chasing gold. He chased gold and finished with bronze.
To grasp Tallent’s pace, earlier this year he walked the Melbourne marathon and finished in 3hr 8min.
Luke Adams finished in the top 20 and former champion Nathan Deakes who has long battled serious hamstring trouble led the race early before falling back into the pack and finishing 22nd. He had to be helped off the course after the race in a bit of distress.
Eric Barrondo, the Guatemalan who won silver in the 20-kilometre walk and led the 50-kilometre race for a period, was disqualified more than 40-kilometre into the race.