Nathan Deakes - Among Best
PowerServe's Nathan Deakes - Deakes among best
Leopold race walker Nathan Deakes possibly saw his own future yesterday in the form of dual Olympic champion, Robert Korzeniowski, as the Polish star collected back-to-back Olympic gold medals.

Deakes rounded off a brilliant debut Olympics when he placed sixth in yesterday’s 50km walk, following on from the eighth he posted in last Friday’s 20km walk.

Yesterday, he managed to put aside the distress of watching his close friend and training partner Jane Saville being disqualified the previous day in sight of a gold medal, to clock a five-minute personal best after racing with the leaders for the best part of 40 kilometres.

With two top-eight finishes at his first Olympics, and coming off a year when he lost three months of training through injury, Deakes proved his status among the world’s elite, showing the promise that might well see him reach similar heights to Korzeniowski in the years ahead.

At just 23, he has the world at his feet.

“Two top-eight finishes in my first Olympics and a five-minute PB in the 50km – it’s beyond my wildest dreams,” Deakes said after crossing the line in 3hrs 47.29min.

“It was very tough today, very warm and very humid, especially the way the race panned out. It was a very slow start and picked up in the middle.”

“I tried to position myself in the lead pack and tried to give myself the best opportunity. I was third at 40km but unfortunately I just ran out of legs in the last 10km.”

Deakes said he would now definitely concentrate on racing the double at major championships from now on after yesterday’s performance, which was only his second start over the distance.

He was hoping his 50km time would qualify him for next year’s World Championships in Edmonton, Canada.

Coming off a three-month injury layoff, which robbed him of the chance to race in Europe, Deakes was delighted with his form.

But for the missed training, he could well have been in medal shape in both races, but he was hurting badly in the latter stages of yesterday’s race.

“The last 10km was like nothing I have ever experienced. I was in a lot of pain,” he said.

Deakes made a triumphant entrance into the stadium, throwing his arms skyward as the crowd roared approval.

“When I walked in, it was the best feeling I’ve had in my life. I got goosebumps,” he said.

Deakes said he was conscious of ensuring he did not run into report trouble yesterday after the events of the previous day, but was not too concerned, picking up just the one report around 35 kilometres.

“As it turned out, the person in front of me got disqualified, which brought me up a position.”

“It’s just one of those races where so many things can happen, like it was highlighted yesterday,” he said.

Deakes said he was full of admiration for the effort of Korzeniowski, who had now put himself in the highest bracket of walkers in the history of the sport.

His winning time of 3hr 42.44min was less than four seconds outside the Olympic best.

He said his own coach Ron Weigl was considered an all-time great, having won silver in both 20km and 50km in Seoul in 1988, but Korzeniowski’s effort was unbelievable.

“He’s the defending champion from Atlanta in the 50km and he was always going to be the man to beat,” he said. “To get two golds speaks for itself.”

Deakes was still coming to grips with Saville’s torment from the women’s 20km walk, but said he had tried to use it as a positive motivation yesterday.

“We’re all really good friends, we’re all training partners. It’s absolutely devastating,” he said.

Deakes said the judging had been “quite harsh” at these games although it was an accepted part of race walking.

“I was disappointed with the disqualifications yesterday, not just with Jane’s, but (the fact) four leaders were put off. It is a fine line,” he said.

The silver medal yesterday went to Latvia’s Aigars Fadejevs (3:43.40), while Mexican Joel Sanchez (3:44.36) took bronze.

Australia’s other 50km walkers Dion Russell (4:02.50) and Duane Cousins (4:10.43) finished 27th and 34th respectively.

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