Borchin claims 20km walk gold for Russia

(dpa) - Valeriy Borchin won the men's 20 kilometres race walk gold medal for Russia at the Beijing Olympics on Saturday, holding off the three-time reigning world champion Jefferson Perez of Ecuador.

Borchin, 21, shook off Perez in the closing stages on a course in Beijing's Olympic Green to win in hot and sunny conditions in 1 hour 19 minutes 1 second.

Perez, who besides his world titles from 1993, 1995 and 1997 also won Olympic gold in 1996, trailed by 14 seconds in 1:19:15 hours. Perez later collapsed in the mixed zone, but medical services manager Peng Mingqiang said "he will recover very soon."

Australia's Jared Tallent grabbed bronze in 1:19.42, leaving only fourth place for local hero Wang Hao who turned 19 on the day. The 2004 gold medallist Ivano Brugnetti of Italy had to settle for fifth.

There has been controversy around Russia's walkers as two of them were reportedly last week caught using the blood booster EPO. World record holder Sergei Morozov was a notable absentee on Saturday and Borchin was also linked with substance abuse.

"I have never been excluded from the Russian team. I have not been tested this year. I don't know what is happening around me, I have trained on my own over the past months," he said.

Looking at the race, Borchin said: "My dream has come true. I was lagging behind at the beginning, this was not really my strategy."

The day's other three finals were scheduled for the evening session, with the blue riband men's 100m final the highlight. The others were the women's shot put and the completion of the heptathlon. World champion Valerie Vili of New Zealand dominated the shot qualifying round with 19.73, and the 2005 worlds winner Nadzeya Ostapchuk of Belarus also made it to the evening decider.

Natalia Dobrynska of Ukraine snatched the heptathlon lead into the final javelin and 800m events with a long jump of 6.63m for a five- event total of 5,045 points. US champ Hyleas Fountain dropped to second with 5,029 and Lyudmila Blonska of Ukraine is third with 4,913 points.

The women's 100m started with the first round and all the favourites from the US (former world champion Torri Edwards, Lauryn Williams and Muna Lee) and Jamaica (Kerron Stewart, Sherone Simpson, Shelley-Ann Fraser) went through.

"I wanted to run as easy as possible and come up with the slowest time I could," said Edwards after her 11.26-seconds run. "I came out to win gold. That would be the icing on the cake for me.

Kenya took a first step towards another 3,000m steeplechase sweep when Ezekiel Kemboi ( 2004 Olympic champion and three-time runner-up at the worlds) Brimin Kiprop Kipruto (2007 world champion and 2004 Olympic silver medallist), and Richard Kipkemboi Mateelong made the final.

Other heats and qualifying rounds included the women's 400m and pole vault as well as the men's discus.

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