Olimpiada Ivanova regained her status as World champion this morning with a consummate display of race walking around the streets of Helsinki, as she set the first World record of the 10th IAAF World Championships in the 20km Race Walk.
Ivanova clocked 1:25:41, bettering** Yan Wang's 1:26:22 from 2001, and so will claim a $100,000 record bonus.
The 34-year-old Russian was never headed through the 20 kilometres up and down Mannerheiminte, a street named after one of Finland's greatest war heroes and past presidents, as rivals tried to challenge her, but either faded away or failed to match Ivanova's technique.
Ivanova did not receive a single judge's warning throughout the race, in which her 5km splits were 21:43, 42:54 and 1:04:05.
"This victory makes me the happiest person here. I haven't really realized it yet."
"In the morning before the race I always pray for success. After the first few kilometres I found the pace and felt fine. At 16km it was a bit more difficult but at that point I was quite confident."
"I've worked hard for this. I had set my training to aim around 1:27 finishing time. The race was a bit faster but it all went fine. All in all I prefer hard uphill training."
"Had I won in Athens I would probably have quit competing. Maybe I was not ready to win then. Now I'll continue until Bejing but next year I might not compete at all."
**Subject to ratification