Zhang Yao added another global age-group title to his collection by winning the U20 men’s 10km race walk at the IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships Taicang 2018.
In an enthralling battle on the final lap, the world U18 champion led a Chinese 1-2 finish to win in a personal best of 40:07 from teammate Wang Zhaozhao (40:12).
A large pack of 13 athletes were together for the first half, passing through five kilometres in 20:32. Zhang, Wang and compatriot Sun Shuai were all in the lead group alongside the likes of David Kuster of France, David Hurtado of Ecuador, Declan Tingay of Australia and Jose Eduardo Ortiz of Guatemala.
The pace increased with each lap and Zhang tried to put in some surges to open a gap on his opponents. He broke free at one point, but was soon reeled back in by his two teammates, Ortiz and Hurtado.
Despite having been shown two red cards, Zhang picked up the pace once more on the final lap to forge a decisive lead. Behind him, the race for medals was heating up as Ortiz battled with Wang and Sun. Hurtado, meanwhile, had been disqualified while Tingay had to spend a minute in the pit lane, effectively ending his pursuit of an individual medal.
Zhang went on to cross the finish line in 40:07 while Wang followed him home five seconds later, securing the first ever 1-2 finish by a single country in the U20 men’s race at these championships.
Ortiz was a further five seconds back, clocking a national U20 record of 40:17 and earning Guatemala’s first medal in the history of the championships.
China duly won the team title while Japan took silver. Despite Tingay’s time penalty, Australia earned the team bronze medal.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF