Antonella Palmisano topped the women’s 20km race walk podium on Friday at Sapporo’s Odori Park with an incredible time of 1:29:12, picking up the pace in the final four kilometers and beating silver medal winner Sandra Arenas of Colombia’s time by 25 seconds. Defending champion Liu Hong of China – who won gold in this event five years ago in Rio – took bronze.
Although many expected China’s three walkers to take all three top spots in this event, Qieyang Shenjie finished seventh and world record holder Yang Jiayu finished 12th after a form infraction put her in the penalty area for two minutes just prior to the 18th kilometer.
Palmisano, 30, came into this race ranked 20th in the world and finished fourth in Rio back in 2016. Her countryman Massimo Stano won gold in the men’s 20km race walk one day earlier.