Road To The Olympic Games

Kaniskina wins 20km walk in downpour

Heavy rain hampered several events Thursday morning at the Summer Olympics in Beijing, but a gold medal is in the books.

Heavy rain put a damper on several events Thursday morning at the Summer Olympics in Beijing, but one gold medal is already in the books. 

The women's 20-kilometre race walk proceeded as scheduled, winding its way through the streets of Beijing.

Olga Kaniskina of Russia led wire-to-wire in winning the gold medal in one hour 26.31 seconds, surpassing the Olympic record of 1:29.05 set by Wang Liping of China at the 2000 Sydney Games.

Kaniskina, the world record holder and reigning world champion, entered the Bird's Nest to a raucous ovation from the soaked yet spirited crowd, crossing the finish line with tears of joy welling up in her eyes and streaming down her rain-swept cheeks.

Kaniskina, 23, finished 36 seconds ahead of silver medallist Kjersti Platzer of Norway (1:27.07).

Italy's Elisa Rigaudo (1:27.12) won the bronze by five seconds over Chinese contender Liu Hong (1:27.17).

Kaniskina was considered the pre-race favourite, having shattered Olimpiada Ivanova's world mark with a walk of 1:25.11 at the Russian championships in Alder on Feb. 23.  

No Canadians competed in the event at Beijing.

Bertocchi ranks 19th overall

The men's decathlon opened with the 100-metres, with Canadian champion Massimo Bertocchi of North York, Ont., placing seventh out of eight competitors in the third of five sprints. 

Bertocchi, 22, clocked 11 seconds flat in the third heat, won by overall leader Brian Clay of the United States in 10.44. 

Bertocchi, taking part in his first Olympics, set a personal best of 10.79 earlier this season.

He ranked 14th overall heading into the long jump, trailing Clay by 128 points with 861.

Bertocchi then earned 826 points with a leap of 7.05 metres in the long jump.

But Clay prevailed yet again, posting 7.78 on his second attempt for 1,005 points.

Clay currently tops the standings with 1,994 points through two of 10 events.

Fellow American Trey Hardee ranks second (1,960), followed by Ukraine's Oleksiy Kasyanov (1,918).

Defending champion Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic, the world and Olympic record holder, earned 814 points with a time of 11.21 in the sprint and 980 more with a season-best leap of 7.68 in the long jump.

Sebrle is seventh overall (1,794), and Bertocchi 19th (1,687) with the shot put still to come.