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Bird's Nest debut ends with Australian grabbing race-walking gold
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10:01, April 19, 2008

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"Bird's Nest", the main venue of the Beijing Olympics debuted here Friday with an Australian race-walker grabbing the gold of an IAAF Race Walking competition.

The 23-year-old Jared Tallent, one hour 20 minutes 11 seconds, was followed be a fierce Chinese competitor Wang Hao, who created his personal best at 1:20:25. Eder Sanchez from Mexico won the third place at 1:20:57.

Both Tallent and Wang were among the leading group in most time of the competition. After three laps inside the sports venue, with a monicker of the Bird's Nest for its interlocking frame and structure, the athletes competed along the parkview boulevard surrounding the stadium.

"The stadium is fantastic and has been well prepared," said the joyous gold medalist. "It's my first international gold and I'm very happy to be the first winner of the new stadium."

"I was a little nervous when I was shown the foul yellow card in the second last lap outside," said silver medal winner Wang, an Inner Mongolian walker aged at 18, citing he was excited as walking back into the stadium.

All the medalists grumbled upon the concrete road outside the Bird's Nest in the competition. The bronze medalist Mexican said, "it's much harder to walk on concrete road than on tarmac, and I need adapt myself in preparing for the coming Olympics."

The concrete surface is evidently harder than the tarmac which is used in most of race-walking events and it will bring more impact to athletes especially those participating 50km race. "Any way," Tallent said, "it's very happy to be the first winner of the stadium."

"It is my first international winning and event in China is very hard to win," he added, citing that floating catkin in the Spring Beijing was somewhat annoying but not that deciding to his performance.

The Mexican medalist said that the air condition in Mexico City is similar to that of Beijing, so he has been quite adapted to it despite of the air which made his throat dry and eyes tearing.

Three Chinese athletes swept Friday afternoon all medals of the women's 20km competition. Liu Hong, a 20-year-old walker from Guangdong Province, won the contest with one hour 29 minutes and 33 seconds, narrowly beating her fellow athelete Yang Yawei who completed the race in the same time.Shi Yang concluded the walking at 1:29:39. All of the three medalists are hot candidates for the Chinese national team for the Beijing Olympics.

The IAAF Race Walking Challenge followed a marathon competition unveiled the use of the national stadium. Test events in the venue, which is scheduled to host the Olympics opening and closing ceremonies, track and field competition and some soccer games, will include another IAAF contest in May.

The authorities also try out the toughest-ever security checks for sports games. Stern-faced cadets, temporarily recruited from police academies, almost groped through non-sensitive body parts after visitors passed security inspection gates. Bottled water and lighters, in addition to hazardous meterials were officially banned from bringing into the stadium. The prolonged security procedure triggered a little impatience among the people waiting for a couple of hours in the warm air in late Spring.

The IAAF Race Walking competition is one of the 42 test events before the Beijing Olympics in August. China sent the most athletes to the competition, which was also participated in by walkers from Australia, El Salvador, Japan, Mexico, the Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka and Tunisia.

Source: Xinhua

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