DAEGU, South Korea, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- Defending champion Valeriy Borchin of Russia took the gold in men's 20km race walk in 1:19:56 at the Daegu World Athletics Championships on Sunday morning.
His teammate Vladimir Kanaykin took the silver, 31 seconds behind Borchin. Luis Fernando Lopez, from Colombia, took the bronze by clocking 1:20:38, which is his personal season best.
Wang Zhen of China, who turned 20 last Wednesday, ended up in fourth with 1:20.54, more than two minutes slower than his personal season best 1:18.38.
Borchin, who turns 25 on Sept. 11, was a runaway winner of the 20km race walk at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin. His personal best this year is 1:18.55, set at Rio Maior in April this year, 17 seconds behind Wang Zhen's season best.
So in Daegu, Borchin had been predicted to face tough challenges from other young talent race walkers such as Wang Zhen and Yusuke Suzuki of Japan. That was partly the reason that he adopted a pursuit approach instead of taking the lead from the beginning of Sunday's race.
After passing the 8km checkpoint, Suzuki began to push into the lead. He enjoyed a clear and widening gap ahead of his fellow race walkers.
At the halfway point, the gap was 32 seconds on the pack, still marshaled by Borchin. Suzuki was timed at 40:58, with a three-second gap over his fading companion, and the pack were on 41.33.
Shortly afterwards, Borchin moved up in pursuit, with Wang Zhen alongside. Suzuki was working hard, mouth agape, and his winning margin was diminishing. He passed the 12km marker in 48.53, and the pack crossed around 23 seconds later.
By the 14km marker, Suzuki was well in the sights of Wang Zhen and Borchin, and beginning to look nervously over his shoulder. His gap was down to around four seconds.
Borchin struck soon afterwards. Slightly before the 15km point, the Russian moved past the Japanese walker and opened up an immediate lead as the Chinese walker struggled to match him.
Within the space of 20 seconds, the race was decided. By the 16km point, as he glanced briefly back over his left shoulder, his gap over Wang Zhen was around 20 seconds.
After that, Borchin maintained the lead all the way until he raised arms aloft and crossed the finish line to retain his world title.
Suzuki, the sole Japanese race walker in Sunday's competition, eventually crossed the line in 1:21.39, sitting in eighth.
Despite the success in defending his title, Borchin said he was "not at all thinking of doubling", in the style of Polish great Robert Korzeniowski who was the 20/50km twin winner of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
"These races are not one and the same thing. It is not like a sprinter running the 100 and 200 meters. They are distinct events. They require very different training and preparation. And I am very happy where I am right now," he said at a post-race press conference.
With two world titles, Borchin seems poised to make his own mark among the greats of the race walking. But he's taking nothing at all for granted.
"As we all know, anything can happen in race walking," Borchin said.
"I am happy to be where I am, but I cannot rest on my honors. There are many, many other great walkers and great challengers. We all have a year to go (before the London Olympics). Whoever prepares the best will have the best chance."