Matej Toth (Getty Images)
Rio de Janeiro - Slovakia's Matej Toth made a decisive break 2km from the line to add Olympic gold to his world title as he won the 50km race walk on Friday.
In punishingly hot and humid conditions, the Slovak overtook defending Olympic champion Jared Tallent of Australia at the end of a race for Slovakia's first-ever Olympic athletics medal.
Toth timed 3:40.58, Tallent taking silver at 18 seconds. Japan's Hirooki Arai was initially credited as the third-placed finisher but was later disqualified following his collision with Canadian Evan Dunfee in the final kilometres, Dunfee awarded bronze instead.
"It was very emotional," the 33-year-old Toth said of a race that saw 19 walkers pull up and 12 disqualified.
"There was a great atmosphere, a lot of people, so I just pushed and it was from all my body, my heart, my brain, my head."
Asked whether it was a pleasure to win without any Russians in the field as they sit out the Rio Games due to a ban over state-sponsored doping, Toth said: "They deserve it!"
Tallent, who belatedly received gold from London after initial Russian winner Sergey Kirdyapkin failed a doping test, echoed Toth's sentiments.
"It was a good group, I didn't have to worry about any cheats in the race that were going to spoil the party for all the clean athletes," he said.
"I'll be proud to stand up on the podium with those guys. It's very different from London, there are no suspicions this time around."
Tallent added: "I took off at 40km and thought I had it, but ran out of legs with about 4km to go.
"I was trying to do everything to hold on, but when Matej came through with a lap to go I had nothing to go. My legs were shot."
France's world record holder Yohann Diniz went through 30km in 2:11.29.
Tallent's training partner Dunfee, who was leading the chasing pack, had made up 12 seconds on Diniz in the preceding 5km, and suddenly the Frenchman pulled up, allowing the Canadian to take the lead.
Diniz was soon back up and walking, but struggling, on the loop down the Pontal beach area southwest of central Rio de Janeiro.
The field was filled with walkers falling by the wayside, 11 pulling out before the 40km mark, including last year's 20km world champion Miguel Angel Lopez, and a further 11 disqualified.
With 10km to go, Tallent had moved into the lead, going through 40km in 2:56:54, chased by Arai.
Coming into the business end of the race, Tallent had built up a 30-second lead over Toth with 6km to walk.
But the Slovak dug deep and ate into the Australian's lead, reeling him in by the 48km mark and holding on for a dramatic victory.
"Around 25km into the race I didn't think I would be in the medals position," admitted Toth.
"But after 35km I saw that for everyone it was very hard, very tough. I couldn't do any speeding up. I just continued with my speed and my pace, and the last 5km was all or nothing.
"So I pushed and I got the fastest 5km."
Diniz's stop-start race saw him finish eighth.
50km walk final
1. Matej Tóth (SVK) 3hr 40min 58sec
2. Jared Tallent (AUS) 3:41:16
3. Evan Dunfee (CAN) 3:41:38
4. Yu Wei (CHN) 3:43:00
5. Robert Heffernan (IRL) 3:43:55
6. Hvard Haukenes (NOR) 3:46:33
7. Yohann Diniz (FRA) 3:46:43
8. Caio Bonfim (BRA) 3:47:02
9. Chris Erickson (AUS) 3:48:40
10. Wang Zhendong (CHN) 3:48:50
11. Quentin Rew (NZL) 3:49:32
12. Horacio Nava (MEX) 3:50:53
13. Takayuki Tanii (JPN) 3:51:00
14. Adrian Blocki (POL) 3:51:31
15. Omar Zepeda (MEX) 3:51:35
16. Jorge Armando Ruiz (COL) 3:51:42
17. Sergiy Budza (UKR) 3:53:22
18. Brendan Boyce (IRL) 3:53:59
19. A Jesus Garcia (ESP) 3:54:29
20. Marco De Luca (ITA) 3:54:40
21. Rafal Augustyn (POL) 3:55:01
22. Jarkko Kinnunen (FIN) 3:55:43
23. Rafal Fedaczynski (POL) 3:55:51
24. Jose Leyver Ojeda (MEX) 3:56:07
25. Dusan Majdan (SVK) 3:58:25
26. Koichiro Morioka (JPN) 3:58:59
27. Alexandros Papamichail (GRE) 3:59:21
28. Jonathan Riekmann (BRA) 4:01:52
29. Ronal Quispe (BOL) 4:02:00
30. Narcis Stefan Mihaila (ROM) 4:02:46
31. Pedro Isidro (POR) 4:03:42
32. Tadas ukevicius (LTU) 4:04:10
33. Rolando Saquipay (ECU) 4:07:29
34. Kumar Sandeep (IND) 4:07:55
35. Miguel Carvalho (POR) 4:08:16
36. Arnis Rumbenieks (LAT) 4:08:28
37. Marc Mundell (RSA) 4:11:03
38. Ivan Banzeruk (UKR) 4:11:51
39. Brendon Reading (AUS) 4:13:02
40. Mario Alfonso Bran (GUA) 4:15:14
41. Vladimir Savanovic (SRB) 4:15:53
42. John Nunn (USA) 4:16:12
43. Bence Venyercsán (HUN) 4:19:15
44. Claudio Villanueva (ECU) 4:19:33
45. Nenad Filipovic (SRB) 4:25:41
46. Han Yucheng (CHN) 4:32:35
47. Pavel Chihuan (PER) 4:32:37
48. Predrag Filipovic (SRB) 4:39:48
49. Kim Hyun-sup (KOR) DNF
50. Ivan Trotskiy (BLR) DNF
51. Igor Glavan (UKR) DNF
52. Miguel Angel López (ESP) DNF
53. Carl Dohmann (GER) DNF
54. Hagen Pohle (GER) DNF
55. Matteo Giupponi (ITA) DNF
56. Mathieu Bilodeau (CAN) DNF
57. Artur Mastianica (LTU) DNF
58. Jos Montaa (COL) DNF
59. Alex Wright (IRL) DNF
60. Jos Ignacio Daz (ESP) DNF
61. Marius Cocioran (ROM) DNF
62. Sndor Rcz (HUN) DNF
63. Luis Henry Campos (PER) DNF
64. Mario Jose Santos Jr (BRA) DNF
65. Veli-Matti Partanen (FIN) DNF
66. Yerenman Salazar (VEN) DNF
67. João Vieira (POR) DNF
68. Hirooki Arai (JPN) Disqualified
69. Edward Araya (CHI) Disqualified
70. Teodorico Caporaso (ITA) Disqualified
71. Andrés Chocho (ECU) Disqualified
72. Luks Gdula (CZE) Disqualified
73. Dominic King (GBR) Disqualified
74. Luis Lopez Menjivar (ESA) Disqualified
75. Aleksi Ojala (FIN) Disqualified
76. Park Chilsung (KOR) Disqualified
77. Jaime Quiyuch (GUA) Disqualified
78. James Rendn (COL) Disqualified
79. Miklós Srp (HUN) Disqualified
80. Martin Tistan (SVK) Disqualified