Australian wins first event at Olympic "Bird's Nest"

Other News Materials 18 April 2008 19:37 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - An Australian race walker on Friday took the first gold medal at Beijing's main Olympic stadium, which is popularly known as the "Bird's Nest".

Jared Tallent, 23, covered 20 kilometres in 1:20:11, according to the International Association of Athletics Federations, the organizer of the first Olympic test event in the nearly completed stadium.

In second was Chinese walker Wang Hao, 14 seconds behind Tallent, followed 32 seconds later by Eder Sanchez of Mexico in third.

The Olympic test event was watched by an estimated 3,000 people in the 91,000-seat venue nicknamed the "Bird's Nest" for its outer web of interlocking steel.

The 450-million-dollar stadium is to be the site of the opening and closing ceremonies of the August Olympics as well as the track and field events. Construction was finished in April, making it the last Olympic venue to be finished.

A women's 20-kilometres race was to be held later on Friday, followed by a men's 50-kilometre competition Saturday.

The Race Walking Challenge is one of 42 test events being held before the August 8-24 summer Olympics.

China's official Xinhua news agency quoted Tallent as saying the new stadium was "fantastic and has been well prepared".

"It's my first international gold and I'm very happy to be the first winner in the new stadium," Tallent said.

But the three medallists were less happy with the concrete surface they had to compete on outside the stadium, the agency said.

The stadium is next scheduled to host the China Open athletics competition on May 22-25.