In an event lasting almost four hours, it took a photo finish to determine that Australian Rhydian Cowley had finished eighth – rather than seventh – in the 50km walk at the Tokyo Olympics.
Either way, a top-10 finish on Friday morning was a tremendous result for the 30-year-old Victorian, who was 33rd in the 20km event on his Games debut five years ago in Rio.
In an event for so long synonymous in Australia with the great Jared Tallent, the win went to David Tomala, who claimed Poland’s fourth track and field gold of the Games in a time of three hours 50 minutes and eight seconds.
Germany’s Jonathan Hilbert took the silver in 3:50:44 and evergreen Canadian Evan Dunfee was third in 3:50:59.
Cowley was the only Australian in the field and he performed admirably, breaking his personal best to finish eighth in 3:52.01.
And it could well have been one position better, only for the judges to check the photo before determining that he had been edged out by China’s Biang Tongda, despite both walkers being given the same finishing time.
Tallent retired earlier this year as Australia’s most prolific male Olympic track and field medallist.
His four medals included a gold and two silvers in the 50km event at the past three Olympics.
Walkers battled tough conditions amid the Tokyo heat despite the event’s early-morning start to avoid the toughest part of the day.