D Days
:
H Hours
:
M Min
until the 2018 Commonwealth Games commence.
Longines Time
April 4 to 15 2018

Dane Bird-Smith walks his way to Games record

Athletics
8 Apr 2018 by Fiona Self

Australian race walker Dane Bird-Smith turned the streets of Currumbin gold on his way to victory in the men's 20km Race Walk. 

Bird-Smith grew up surf lifesaving at the Burleigh Heads-Mowbray Park Surf Club, just a few kilometres from the stretch of beachfront that hosted his triumphant win. 

In a very close race, Bird-Smith took the lead with the finish line in sight, finishing just four seconds ahead of England's Tom Bosworth and securing the gold in a Commonwealth Games record time of 1:19.34. 

Kenya's Samuel Ireri Gathimba won bronze, Kenya's first-ever Games race walking medal. 

Bird-Smith said the home crowd made all the difference in the final stretch of the race. 

"The last 500m hurt so much but I had everyone behind me which made it so special," he said. 

"It was unbelievable, an unreal feeling. I am over the moon and I cannot thank [the crowd] enough. As I came around the bend they went absolutely ballistic." 

With race walk not included on the program in Glasgow four years ago, it is Bird-Smith's first Games, first gold and first Games record.

Bird-Smith and silver medallist Tom Bosworth are good friends and Bosworth said he was happy to put on an exciting race for the crowds that lined the streets. 

"I like to put on a show and I'm glad Dane walked away with the medal," Bosworth said. 

"Some people doubt what race walking is about, well we put on a show there. 

"It was entertaining and that is what the sport is all about." 

Bosworth's time of 1:19.34 was a personal best and English national record. After being disqualified from the 2017 World Championships, he said the race, record and medal win was redemption.

 Gold medalist Dane Bird-Smith of Australia is congratulated by silver medalist Tom Bosworth of England after the Men's 20km Race Walk Final
Bird-Smith and Bosworth are friends on and off the road

Bird-Smith is coached by his father David Smith, who is also an accomplished walker having represented Australia at the 1980 and 1984 Olympic Games.

Holding back tears, David told Channel 7 the win was hard-fought. 

"It's fantastic, we worked really hard. I'm very proud," he said. 

"He's compromised everything in his life to do it and we stuck to the plan, he executed the plan perfectly. He was brilliant." 

David was famously arrested at the Rio Olympics when he jumped the fence and tried to congratulate Dane after he won bronze in the 20km event.

Australia has won every men's Race Walk event contested at a Commonwealth Games.