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29 Sep 2000
Sydney 2000

Korzeniowski battles to first walking double

It was four years since Poland’s Robert Korzeniowski had won the 50km walk gold medal in Atlanta and his results since then had suggested he was still at the very top of his game. In Sydney, though, he decided to double the challenge by also entering the 20km event. Nobody had ever won both titles at the same Olympics.

First up was the 20km in which his prospects were considered less strong. As expected he faced a tough battle throughout, with Mexico's Bernardo Segura leading the challenge. The two men were neck and neck as they approached the final stages, but Segura knew he had to be careful. He had already been warned twice for lifting, and one more warning would mean instant disqualification.

Tragically for the Mexican, that final red card came just as the two athletes prepared to enter the stadium, along with Segura’s compatriot, Noé Hernández.

Unaware of the third warning, Segura continued on, passing Korzeniowski to cross the line first. Only after he had started celebrating was the news broken to him that he had, in fact, been disqualified.

Instead the title went to Korzeniowski, who had finished just four seconds ahead of Hernández. The first leg of his great challenge was complete.

If he was tired ahead of the second race, it didn't show. His familiarity with the 50km distance shone through in his calm approach and he broke away from the field with 8km still to go.

The gap between him and the pack grew gradually larger until the finishing line, with Korzeniowski coming home 1 minute 18 seconds ahead of second-placed Algars Fadejevs, of Latvia.

Not only had he made history by completing the 20km/50km double, the Pole had also become the first person to win the 50km gold medal more than once. Four years later he extended his own record by winning the 50km title for a third time, one this occasion with an astonishing margin of more than four minutes.

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