Facing blistering temperatures and 56 competitors in a grueling test of endurance, Italy’s Massimo Stano powered his way to the head of the pack in the final quarter of the men’s 20km race walk and never let up, finishing with a time of 1:21:05 to score a gold medal.
Dripping with sweat in the 88 degrees Fahrenheit heat, the 29-year-old police officer earned a podium position alongside Japan’s Koki Ikeda and Yamanishi Toshikazu, who took silver and bronze respectively.
Although Stano was close behind the leaders through much of the race in its early goings, home favorite Toshikazu stayed at the top of the standings for the first two kilometers before he was surpassed by Kaihua Wang of China and Sandeep Kumar of India, who both seemed destined for medal placement as the race approached its midpoint.
The field shifted dramatically in kilometer 10, though, as the fatigued Sandeep dropped back to 12th position and Stano, Ikeda and Diego Garcia of Spain closed in. Ultimately, it was the calm and collected Stano who pushed himself to the front in the final stretch and stayed there, earning his first Olympic medal in his Games debut.