Wayne Snyman shows his class to claim top-20 spot in 20km Olympic race walk
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CAPE TOWN - IT was 32 degrees Celcius in Sapporo on Thursday, with over 60 percent humidity – not ideal conditions to do a 20km walk by any means.
But South African Wayne Snyman slogged through the uncomfortable weather to finish 20th in the 20km race walk at the Tokyo Olympics.
The 36-year-old from Pretoria made a number of sacrifices to prepare for the Games, including giving up his usual day job as a teacher.
And it proved to be all worth it following his performance on Thursday.
Snyman only just qualified for Tokyo, breaching the required mark by one second in Slovenia in March – producing a time of 1 hour 20.59 seconds (1:20.59), just inside the required 1:21.00.
On Thursday, he didn’t have the best of starts in Sapporo, coming in 30th spot at the 2km mark, 33rd at 4km and 31st at 6km.
But Snyman made his move up the field over the next few kilometres, shifting up to 25th at the 10km halfway mark in a time of 41 minutes and 49 seconds (41:49), and he was in 23rd place at the 14km distance.
He wasn’t done yet, showing his class as he charged into 20th after 16km and maintained his place until the end. He nearly caught Ecuador’s David Hurtado on the last lap, but was just short by two seconds to finish in a time of 1 hour 24 minutes and 33 seconds (1:24:33).
It was shy of his personal best of 1:20:17, but considering the muggy conditions, it was a superb performance from Snyman, who improved significantly on his 58th-place finish at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where his time was 1:29:20.
Italy’s Massimo Stano took the gold medal in a time of 1:21:05, with host country Japan claiming the silver and bronze through Koki Ikeda (1:21:14) and Toshikazu Yamanishi (1:21:28) respectively.