As Korzeniowksi rounded the corner for his final lap of the 2K loop, the fans of Poland's Golden Boy went crazy. Adding horns and flag waving to their usual chants of RO-BERT, RO-BERT, RO-BERT, you knew for quite a distance away who the fan favorite was today.
The most amazing feat of Korzeniowksi's walk wasn't the time. It wasn't even the way he obliterated the field. It was his machine-like cadence that never seemed to fluctuate. Whether he walked 47K or 5K, you wouldn't be able to tell by his stride.
In contrast, Nizhegorodov looked like death. The main question was would Nizhegorodov be able to hang on for the silver medal.
For some, the pain was just too much and the curb seemed like the best place to be.
However, after some encouragement by his teammate, Aigars Fadejevs got back on his feet and started back on his question to the finish line.
When Korzeniowksi rounded the turn for the final 1K to the stadium, the fans mobbed the walkway over to the stadium.
Korzeniowksi coasted through the final 1K, even though it was deceptively hard. Almost half of the final K was on a gradual climb to the stadium. Finishing 1st and uncontested for the latter part of the race, Korzeniowksi won his 4th Olympic Gold Medal in a time of 3:38:46.
Nizhegorodov did not appreciate the raise in elevation. He also didn't have the huge fan base to cheer him along. Even so, he was able to muster enough to hang on for the silver medal in a time of 3:42:50. What was simply amazing to me was the contrast between Korzeniowksi 's late race fluidity and Nizhegorodov's near death march. In the end, only 4 minutes separated them, however on the course it seemed like much more. While I have read reports that Nizhegorodov was not legal late in the race, I was about 700 meters from the finish and he was completely legal obeying both parts of the definition of race walking.
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