Vancouver race walker Inaki Gomez logged one of Canada’s best Olympic performances of the London 2012 Games on Saturday morning, setting a new national record and finishing 13th in the 20-kilometre race.
The 24-year-old graduate of Vancouver College and the University of B.C. consistently advanced his way through the pack of 56 race walkers, gaining position on his competitors although losing time against the leaders and eventual winner.
Crowded out at the start and pushed behind more than 40 other racers as they took off along London’s famed Mall, Gomez had passed 15 racers by the fourth kilometre. By the halfway mark, a lead group had broken away and Gomez trailed in a second chase group. After 10 km, he clocked in at 18th with 16 seconds between him and the leader Chen Ding.
He then chipped away, successively moving ahead through five positions as the kilometres ticked by and several racers ahead of him were disqualified for technical errors.
Ding, the Chinese winner, set a new Olympic record and finished 11 seconds ahead of his closest competitor. Gomez trailed him by two minutes at 12 seconds, finishing in 1:20.58.
He improved his own personal best by 60 seconds and took five seconds off the best-ever Canadian time to set a new national record. Arturo Huerta’s record of 1:21.03 stood for 12 years. The world record hovers at 1:17.16 and is held by a Russian.