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Olympic champion Liu sets 50km world record

Updated March 10, 2019

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China's Liu Hong becames the first woman to dip under the four-hour mark.— AFP
China's Liu Hong becames the first woman to dip under the four-hour mark.— AFP

BEIJING: Rio Olympics race walk champion Liu Hong broke the 50km world record and became the first woman to dip under the four-hour mark at an event in Haungshan on Saturday.

Liu, who won the Olympic distance 20km gold in Rio, clocked three hours, 59 minutes and 15 seconds for the longer race the Chinese Race Walk Grand Prix in the eastern city of Huangshan, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said.

She shaved more than five minutes off the previous record (4:04:36) set by compatriot Liang Rui in Taicang last year.

It is the first 50km outing for the 31-year-old, who has just returned from two years of maternity leave in 2019, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

A two-time World Championships winner, the 31-year-old now holds the world record for both the 20km and 50km distances, having clocked 1:24:38 in La Coruna, Spain in 2015 for the shorter distance.

Liu pipped Mexico’s Maria Gonzalez by just two seconds to win the Olympic women’s 20km race walk in a nail-biting finish in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. She also won the 20km gold at the 2011 and 2015 World Championships.

Chinese athletes dominated Saturday’s Huangshan race, with Li Maocuo shaving 11 minutes off her personal best to finish second at 4hr 3min 51sec and Ma Faying coming in third at 4hr 7min 30sec.

Published in Dawn, March 10th, 2019