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2004 Olympic Games Athens - Men's 50 km walk



Host City: Athina, Greece  
Date Started: August 27, 2004  
Date Finished: August 27, 2004  
(Competitors: 54; Countries: 31)  
    Venue(s): Olympic Stadium, Athens Olympic Sports Complex Spiros Loues, Maroussi
Overview by IAAF    2004-athens-stadium.jpg
Even before the race began, Korzeniowski was widely regarded as the greatest walker of all-time. The race quickly developed into a battle between the quartet of Korzeniowski, Yu, Nizhegorodov and Deakes, fresh from his 20Km medal performance. The four stayed together until 30Km, when Korzeniowski began to apply the pressure. His next 5Km was 21:15, the fastest of the race, and he opened up a gap of 30 seconds over Nizhegorodov. Yu was another 20 seconds back, while Deakes dropped out. The Chinese contender fell back quickly and was overtaken for bronze by Voyevodin in the last 150m of the race. The gap between first and second was just under a minute at 40Km, 1:32 at 45Km, and more than four minutes by the finish. Korzeniowski’s halves were a remarkably even 1:49:18/1:49:28. In winning the Pole became the first man other than field event athletes to win three consecutive individual gold medals. Over three Olympiads the Polish star had walked almost 260Km and won four golds in all.
Summary by      
After an early career that saw several disqualifications for technique violations, Robert Korzeniowski had become the best 50 km. walker in the world. He was the two-time defending Olympic champion, had won the 1998 and 2002 European Championships, and the 1997, 2001, and 2003 World Championships. At the halfway point, Korzeniowski was in the lead group with Denis Nizhegorodov (RUS), Yu Chaohong (CHN), and Australia’s Nathan Deakes attempting to stay with him. But Korzo then put the hammer down and the race was over. He eventually won by four minutes with Nizhegorodov getting the silver medal. It was his third consecutive gold medal in the event and he then retired.


Prior to the competition, the existing World and Olympic records were as follows.

World record  Denis Nizhegorodov (RUS) 3:35:29 Cheboksary, Russia 13 June 2004
Olympic record  Vyacheslav Ivanenko (URS) 3:38:29 Seoul, South Korea 30 September 1988

No new records were set during the competition.


The qualification period for athletics was 1 January 2003 to 9 August 2004. For the men's 20 kilometres race walk, each National Olympic Committee was permitted to enter up to three athletes that had run the race in 4:00:00 or faster during the qualification period. If an NOC had no athletes that qualified under that standard, one athlete that had run the race in 4:07:00 or faster could be entered.

The men's 50 kilometres race walk at the 2004 Summer Olympics as part of the athletics program was held through the streets of Athens with the start and finish at the Athens Olympic Stadium on August 27.

The race had started in the virtually empty Olympic Stadium with fifty-four walkers lining up the field. The Chinese trio of Han Yucheng, Yu Chaohong, and A Latangadasu hurtled away from the pack to take the front as they left the stadium. In the early laps, Han made a tactical move to continuously lead the Chinese walkers within five minutes, but he received his first of three warnings, fell off back to the pack, and was later disqualified after the red paddle. Ten minutes into the race, the Chinese duo were soon joined by four other walkers, Russia's world record holder Denis Nizhegorodov and his teammate Aleksey Voyevodin, 20 km bronze medalist Nathan Deakes of Australia, and defending Olympic champion Robert Korzeniowski.

Between 10 and 30k, Nizhegorodov and Korzeniowski moved to the front of the pack and stayed abreast each other through most of the race. At the halfway point, the leading group had been whittled down to four. Korzeniowski was still in the lead with the Russian duo and Deakes attempting to overtake him. While Nizhegorodov and Voyevodin created a gap as they separated from the group to gain a thirty-second advantage, it came down to a chase between Korzeniowski and Deakes to take the lead with only one hour to go. Deakes was eventually disqualified after his third warning with the red card, and Korzeniowski steadily broke away from the field to own the remaining third of the race.

At around 35k, Korzeniowski had commanded a 30-second lead over the weary Nizhegorodov and a further 22 seconds over Yu Chaohong. Walking tirelessly in fourth, Voyevodin managed to bridge back to the pack and launched a charge to strengthen his pace closely behind Yu.

Coming through the 45k mark and into the Olympic Stadium, Korzeniowski increased his lead by fifteen seconds ahead of the world record holder before storming his way at the final turn to cross the finish line for the last time in his competitive career. With a historic win, he added a fourth gold medal to his Olympic tally in 3:38:46.

Five minutes behind Korzeniowski, Nizhegorodov appeared unstable on the home stretch, but had accumulated much ground to finish strong with a silver medal, before collapsing to the track in exhaustion. Meanwhile, his fast-charging teammate Voyevodin surpassed the confident Yu just outside the stadium to claim the bronze with a tremendous finish, edging the Chinese off the podium by eleven seconds.
27 AUG 2004 General News

Men's 50km Walk Final

The Legend, Mr Robert Korzeniowski added a wonderful fourth Olympic gold medal to his tally which already included gold medals from the 20km in Atlanta 1996 and the historical double 20km/50km from Sydney 2000.

The 36-year-old Pole who is by far the most successful race walker in history took a commanding win in this morning’s 50km race walk in 3:38:46 his third best time ever after his World record breaking performances at the European Championships in Munich 2002 and Paris 2003 World Championships.

Korzeniowski came home more than four minutes ahead of Russia’s World record holder Denis Nizhegorodov who had bettered Korzeniowski’s mark when winning the national championships in June.

Fourth at last year’s World Championships, Aleksey Voyevodin also of Russia managed to grab the bronze medal with a tremendous finish overtaking China’s Yu Caohong just before entering the stadium. The Russian clocked 3:43:34 to the Chinese’s 3:43:45.

Korzeniowski wanted to mark the end of his illustrious career with an imposing performance at the Athens Olympic Games and not only did the Pole win the most coveted of all medals but he did it with courage, passion and style.

In the leading pack since the very first stages of this gruelling event Korzeniowski was left alone in the lead when 2 hours and 25 minutes into the race Australia’s Nathan Deakes, the 20km bronze medal winner here in Athens, was shown the red card.

From then on it was Korzeniowski all the way. At 35 kilometres which Korzeniowski reached in 2:32:12, he already had a 30-second lead over Nizhegorodov and a further 22 seconds over Caohong who was still comfortably in medal contention.

At this point, Voyevodin was in fourth 13 seconds behind the Chinese with Jesus Angel Garcia of Spain, Aigars Fadejevs of Latvia, Roman Magdziarczyk, another Pole, and 1996 20km Olympic champion Jefferson Perez of Ecuador trailing behind. Perez who had a disappointing 20km here in Athens as he could only manage fourth was struggling to keep up the pace. He even stopped and it looked like he was going to withdraw but such is the determination of the South American that he resumed walking and eventually finished 12th in a new national record 3:53:04.

Up front Korzeniowski was increasing his lead and coming through the 45th kilometre he was 41 second clear of Nizhegorodov. The polish champion inspires so much respect that every time he would lap another runner, he was showed the thumbs up by his own competitors. When lapping his compatriot Magdziarczyk the two shook hands in a gesture that told it all.

On the side of the course among the hundredths of loud and cheerful Polish fans, Athanasía Tsoumeléka, the 22-year-old Greek who won the Women’s 20km Walk earlier in the week was taking snap shots of Korzeniowski passing by.

Although there was hardly any one inside the Olympic stadium - all the fans had gathered along the 2km loop course - Korzeniowski was greeted with a standing ovation. His arms up in the air, a Polish flag in his mouth, the Pole crossed the finish line for the last time in his competitive career.

He is now part of history.

“This is my fourth gold medal and the sweetest of all. The one I’ve wanted the most, the one I’ve worked the hardest for, the one I deserve the most,” repeated Korzeniowski in at least four different languages.

“I am so happy. I am also a little bit surprised by the time because I wasn’t pushing too hard. I was just controlling the race, controlling the Russians mainly and making sure no-one would catch up with me.”

“The Russian took too many risks when setting such a tough pace so early on in the race. I wandered whether or not I should follow and stay with him and then I looked at my stop watch and saw I was on schedule with my plans so I just stuck with him.”

24-year-old Nizhegorodov did take a risk too many today and almost lost his silver medal because of it. In the last three kilometres the Russian was just a shadow of himself and could barely put a step in front of the other. He dramatically slowed down, lost his technique and it looked like he wouldn’t hold on to the finish.

But the Russian had accumulated enough ground to eventually make it and finish second. He collapsed to the floor just metres after the finish and it took him several long minutes to recover his senses. He had covered the last five kilometres in 25:30 while his fast finishing compatriot Voyevodin covered the same distance in 22:24!

Caohong who had been in third position since the 15th kilometre mark was also paying for his early race efforts and had to be content with a disappointing fourth.

Amazingly three Poles finished in the top seven with Magdziarczyk in sixth and Grzegorz Sudol in seventh.

A true national hero, Korzeniowski was congratulated by the President of State Aleksaner Kwasniewski who was waiting for his most illustrious athlete by the finish line.

“Those were my last steps as a competitive walker that you saw out there on the track but I will most definitely stay in the world of athletics. I love the sport too much to just let go of it.”

“Right now I am thinking about writing a book on Race Walking,” said a delighted Korzeniowski.

And one can be sure that the four-time Olympic champion has a lot of stories to tell.

50 km walk Men     Final 27 August      
Rank Mark     Athlete Country NOC Birth Date Records
1 3.38.46     Robert Korzeniowski Poland POL 30 Jul 68  
2 3.42.50     Denis Nizhegorodov Russia RUS 26 Jul 80  
3 3.43.34     Aleksey Voyevodin Russia RUS 9 Aug 70  
4 3.43.45     Yu Chaohong China CHN 12 Dec 76  
5 3.44.42     Jesús Ángel García Spain ESP 17 Oct 69  
6 3.48.11     Roman Magdziarczyk Poland POL 5 Jul 77  
7 3.49.09     Grzegorz Sudoł Poland POL 28 Aug 78  
8 3.49.48     Santiago Pérez Spain ESP 15 Jan 72  
9 3.50.28     Yuriy Andronov Russia RUS 6 Nov 71  
10 3.51.55     Gadasu Alatan China CHN 27 Jan 84  
11 3.52.52     Aigars Fadejevs Latvia LAT 27 Dec 75  
12 3.53.04     Jefferson Pérez Ecuador ECU 1 Jul 74 NR
13 3.53.20     Trond Nymark Norway NOR 28 Dec 76  
14 3.54.22     Peter Korčok Slovakia SVK 12 Aug 74  
15 3.55.43     Miguel Angel Rodríguez Mexico MEX 15 Jan 67  
16 3.57.00     Yuki Yamazaki Japan JPN 16 Jan 84  
17 3.58.33     Germán Sánchez Mexico MEX 31 Jul 67  
18 3.59.11     Miloš Bátovský Slovakia SVK 26 May 79  
19 3.59.32     Andrei Stsepanchuk Belarus BLR 12 Jun 79  
20 3.59.33     Sergey Korepanov Kazakhstan KAZ 9 May 64  
21 4.00.25     Eddy Riva France FRA 17 Mar 73  
22 4.01.32     David Boulanger France FRA 11 Dec 74  
23 4.02.06     Aleksandar Raković Serbia SRB 13 Apr 68  
24 4.03.51     Zóltan Czukor Hungary HUN 18 Dec 62  
25 4.04.26     Modris Liepiņš Latvia LAT 3 Aug 66  
26 4.05.02     Sérgio Galdino Brazil BRA 7 May 69  
27 4.05.16     Kim Dong-Young South Korea KOR 6 Mar 80  
28 4.05.35     Jani Lehtinen Finland FIN 23 Feb 74  
29 4.06.48     Craig Barrett New Zealand NZL 16 Nov 71  
30 4.09.41     Daugvinas Zujus Lithuania LTU 16 Oct 75  
31 4.10.31     Tim Berrett Canada CAN 23 Jan 65  
32 4.11.31     Curt Clausen United States USA 9 Oct 67  
33 4.11.51     José Antonio González Spain ESP 15 Jun 79  
34 4.12.24     Jorge Costa Portugal POR 20 Mar 61  
35 4.12.49     Phillip Dunn United States USA 12 Jun 71  
36 4.13.11     Kazimír Verkin Slovakia SVK 27 Mar 72  
37 4.13.40     Rustam Kuvatov Kazakhstan KAZ 9 Nov 77  
38 4.15.01     Miloš Holuša Czech Republic CZE 2 May 65  
39 4.17.25     Yeóryios Aryirópoulos Greece GRE 20 Jan 70  
40 4.20.11     Mário José dos Santos Brazil BRA 10 Sep 79  
41 4.29.33     János Tóth Hungary HUN 15 Apr 78  
  DQ     Giovanni De Benedictis Italy ITA 8 Jan 68  
  DQ     Takayuki Tanii Japan JPN 14 Feb 83  
  DQ     Julio Martínez Guatemala GUA 27 Sep 73  
  DQ     Nathan Deakes Australia AUS 17 Aug 77  
  DQ     Andreas Erm Germany GER 12 Mar 76  
  DNF     André Höhne Germany GER 10 Mar 78  
  DNF     Denis Langlois France FRA 10 Oct 68  
  DNF     Han Yucheng China CHN 16 Dec 78  
  DNF     Mario Iván Flores Mexico MEX 28 Feb 79  
  DNF     Spirídon Kastánis Greece GRE 23 Sep 64  
  DNF     Theódoros Stamatópoulos Greece GRE 24 Apr 70  
  DNF     Pedro Martins Portugal POR 12 Jan 68  
  DNF     Luis García Guatemala GUA 13 Sep 74  




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