Athletics-Martin, Perez seal double glory for Spain in 35km race walks

Athletics - World Athletics Championship - Men's 35 km Race Walk - Budapest, Hungary - August 24, 2023 Spain's Alvaro Martin celebrates after winning the gold medal in men's 35 km race walk REUTERS/Marton Monus

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Alvaro Martin and Maria Perez completed Spain's domination of the race walks at the World Athletics Championships on Thursday by adding gold in the 35 kilometres events to their victories in last weekend's 20km races.

Martin held off Ecuador's Brian Pintado to win the men's race in two hours, 24 minutes and 30 seconds, while Perez clocked a championship record time of 2:38:40, finishing more than two minutes ahead of defending champion Kimberly Garcia Leon.

Perez's victory was rarely in doubt as she dominated Peru's Garcia Leon, who finished in 2:40:52. European champion Antigoni Drisbioti of Greece completed the podium with a season's best 2:43:22.

"I had this problem with my hamstring after the 20km race and I was still considering whether to start at the 35km but I managed to get through," said Perez, who smashed Garcia Leon's 35 km world record by nearly half a minute in May.

"The hard work and pain paid off ... This is a huge achievement not only for me but for the whole Spanish team

After early leader Aurelien Quinion of France had dropped off the pace and was then disqualified, Martin shared the lead with Pintado and Japan's Masatora Kawano entering the final 4km before making the break with less than 2km remaining.

He set a national record and crossed the line four seconds before Pintado, with Kawano posting a season's best 2:25:12 to finish third. Defending champion Massimo Stano of Italy was seventh in 2:25:59.

"I am so tired," Martin said. "I was fourth in the Olympic Games and it was very tough to get so close to an Olympic medal. It's wonderful now to be a double world champion in Budapest.

"I see Maria is first too in the women's race, so today is a great day for Spain."

(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Hyderabad; Editing by Devika Syamnath, Peter Rutherford)

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