Walking back to happiness — Diniz enjoys golden moment at last

France's Yohann Diniz wins the men's 50km race walk athletics event at the 2017 IAAF World Championships on The Mall in central London on Sunday. (AFP)
Updated 13 August 2017
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Walking back to happiness — Diniz enjoys golden moment at last

LONDON: Mercurial Frenchman Yohann Diniz finally secured the global title that had frustratingly eluded him when he won men’s 50 kilometers walk world championship gold at the sixth attempt on Sunday.
The 39-year-old, who is the oldest winner of the event, was even able to enjoy his version of the royal wave down The Mall leading from Buckingham Palace after leaving his rivals trailing from an early stage of the gruelling event.
Diniz spent so much time celebrating with spectators close to the finish that he missed the opportunity to eclipse his own world best mark as he finished in 3hrs 33min 12sec — 39sec short of his mark from Zurich in 2014 when he won the third of three European titles, but still the second fastest time in history and a championship record.
It was a far happier outcome than his experience in the 2012 Olympics where he was disqualified before being pictured disconsolately leaning on a tree in The Mall, or last year’s Rio Games where he collapsed twice before bravely finishing eighth.
However, Diniz, who was also disqualified in the 2008 Olympics, confessed to having to pull himself together at one point when he received a warning.
“I started having doubts after 20km,” said Diniz, whose previous best perfomance was silver in the 2007 championships.
“I got a card around 20km too and I thought, ‘I just must not mess this up’. I just concentrated completely on my technique.”
Diniz, who gave France their third gold medal of the championships, said he had purposely avoided watching Saturday’s action.
“A lot of training has gone into this — cycling, swimming — everything for this 50km walk. Last night I kept away from watching the TV (athletics) because I did not want to get too excited. I went to bed at 9pm because I knew it was going to be my day today.”
Despite his advancing years, Diniz said he was likely to carry on and have one last tilt at winning the only major title that has eluded him — the Olympic gold.
“It is a lovely Sunday afternoon. I know you should never take any decision when you are hot,” he said.
“I am still missing one (title) and that is the Olympic one. It would be a nice way to finish in Tokyo.”
Japan’s Hirooki Arai came second, giving Asia their highest ever placing in the event, and team-mate Kai Kobayashi took bronze, finishing eight minutes in arrears of the winner.
The women’s race made its debut at the championships — with just seven competitors — and was won by Ines Henriques of Portugal breaking her own world record, timing 4hr 05min 56sec.
The women’s other race — the 20km — had a dramatic climax with Jiayu Yang winning gold after compatriot Lyu Xiuzhi was disqualified just seconds from the line.
Colombian Eider Arevalo won the men’s 20km with third placed Caio Bonfim making walking history for Brazil in delivering them their first medal in the event.


Rory McIlroy ready to roll back the years in search of more Major glory at the Open

Updated 45 min 31 sec ago
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Rory McIlroy ready to roll back the years in search of more Major glory at the Open

  • Former world No.1 without a Major victory in four years.
  • McIlroy looking to play carefree as he goes in search of second Claret Jug.

Rory McIlroy knows what he needs to do to win the Open this weekend: Play as if it does not matter and go for broke.
The world No. 8 has won four 
Majors but, by his high standards, is in a bit of a slump, having not got his hands on one of the four big titles since 2014. That win came at the US PGA Championship at Valhalla, which came barely a month after his only Open victory at Royal Liverpool.
He tees it up at Carnoustie today with five top-fives this season, but only one win. However, with ever 
expectant fans and a game that when on song is better than anyone else’s there is expectation he can claim 
Major No.5 this weekend.
The Northern Irishman’s first Open came at Carnoustie 11 years ago and he is aiming to play the famous links in the same carefree attitude he did as a teenager, and hopes that lands him 
another Claret Jug.
“I do need to get back to that attitude where I play carefree and I’m just happy to be here,” the 29-year-old said.
“(2007) was my first Open — I was just trying to soak everything in and I was just so grateful to be here. I think that’s a big part of it — if you’re happy in what you’re doing, you’ll be successful.
“As you get a little older, you get a little more cautious in life — it’s only natural. For me, it’s more about 
playing with the freedom and I don’t want to say being naive but there is something nice about being young and being oblivious to some stuff.
“When we last played The Open here, I was bouncing down the fairways and didn’t care if I shot 82 or 62 because I was just happy to be here. The more I can get into that mindset, the better I’ll play.”
For McIlroy that may well involve using the driver more than some of his rivals. The heatwave the UK has been experiencing has seen the fairways run firm and fast with many of his rivals such as Tiger Woods saying they will mostly hit irons off the tee. But for McIlroy the game plan will change from day to day.
“There’s not going to be one player in this field with a game plan on Wednesday night who will to stick to that the whole way around for 72 holes,’’ McIlroy said. “It’s just not going to happen with wind conditions, with pins. You start to feel a little bit more comfortable with a few shots, and you might start to take some on.
“It’s going to be really interesting, I think, because the golf course is playing so firm and fast, there’s some guys that will see it completely different to the way I see it and vice versa. It’s 
going to be really interesting to see how it all plays out.’’