Olive Loughnane and Laura Reynolds brought the curtain down on a brilliant day for Irish Race Walking when they finished 13th and 20th respectively in the women’s Olympic 20km race walk which was won in dramatic fashion by Elena Lashmanova of Russia in 1:25.02- a World Record.
Olive Loughnane’s finishing time of 1:29.39 was a season’s best performance and Laura Reynolds had good reason to be pleased with her effort and a time of 1:31:02- a personal best of nearly two minutes.
Olga Kaniskina of Russia set a scorching pace from the gun and engaged in a torrid battle in the opening kilometres with Xiuzhi Lu of China who finished up in sixth place. However, Kaniskina was caught in the closing stages by her Russian team mate, Elena Lashmanova who claimed the gold medal and a world record.
“This was a massive season’s best for me,” Olive Loughnane said. “I was two minutes inside what I had done previously this season. I have only gone quicker on three other occasions and that was on the back of a really fast pace. I have no regrets, but I thought that I would be so much higher up. I went through the first 5 kilometres today at 87 minute pace and I was about 12th. Ordinarily , they would come back to me, but that was not happening today. It was my pride that kept me going when things were not going well. I’m very proud of what I’ve done. It’s my fourth Olympics and my last Olympics.”
It was a first Olympic experience for Laura Reynolds and the Leitrim woman had good reason to be in celebration mood with her 20th position. “I’m absolutely delighted with that performance,” Reynolds said. “I’m only 23 and this is my first Olympics. It’s been a hard year and I’ve had some injuries to deal with. My coach is Colin Griffin and he had given me a game plan coming into the race. I started close to the back and I picked them off one by one. I had a personal best over 5k and 10km as well during the race.”
Both Irish athletes paid tribute to the hugely supportive fans who lined the two kilometre per lap race route. “I was such a brilliant experience- so enjoyable and the crowd support was amazing, “Laura Reynolds said.