Italy's Alex Schwazer has won the Olympic 50km walk, setting a games record despite conditions made brutal by relentless sun.
|Schwazer enters the National Stadium [GALLO/GETTY]
Schwazer, a double world championship bronze medalist, broke clear around the 42km mark and covered the longest race in the athletics programme in three hours, 37 minutes, nine seconds.
Australia's Jared Tallent, who had taken bronze in the 20km event, went one better with silver on Friday, coming in two minutes, 18 seconds behind in a personal best.
World record holder Denis Nizhegorodov of Russia, a 50km silver medalist in Athens, took bronze.
It was a hugely impressive performance by Schwazer, who took more than a minute off the 20-year-old Olympic record set by Russia's Vyacheslav Ivanenko in Seoul.
After the previous day's rain the sky was clear and conditions relatively cool when the field set off at 0730 local time, but it did not take long for the mercury to rise.
The heat meant that big gaps soon opened and the three medalists eventually broke clear from a pack of seven soon after the 30km mark, while after 40km they had built a two-minute cushion.
Schwazer was the stronger, though, and burst 40 seconds clear with 5km to go.
From then on it was merely a question of avoiding disqualification, which he accomplished safely to take Italy's first gold in the event since 1964.