UJonathan Hilbert took hold of his head in faith and then burst into tears. The 26-year-old from the LG Ohra Energie caused a sensation at the farewell performance of the 50-kilometer walkers from the Olympic stage and won silver after a tactically brilliant performance.
29 years after the bronze coup of today’s national coach Ronald Weigel at the Olympics in Barcelona, Hilbert wrote his own chapter in German walking history. After gold for Malaika Mihambo in the long jump and silver for discus thrower Kristin Pudenz, it was the third German athletics medal at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“Now it’s time to go to the award ceremony in Tokyo”, he exclaimed with joy after crossing the finish line in Sapporo and put a flag in black, red and gold around his shoulders. In the end, Hilbert was only 36 seconds short of Olympic champion Dawid Tomala from Poland (3:50:08 hours). After finishing fourth in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, Canadian Evan Dunfee (+51 seconds) won bronze. Carl Dohmann from Baden-Baden finished 33rd (+17: 10 minutes), Nathaniel Seiler from Bühlertal was 42nd (+25: 29).
Hilbert offered a masterpiece in Sapporo, where the marathon and walker medal fights had been relocated for climatic reasons. In the crucial phase he stayed in a chase group that was on the heels of the towering Tomala. In the meantime, the Pole pulled away at the front with a lead of more than three minutes. The German was in the middle of the fight for silver – together with Marc Tur (Spain), Dunfee, Joao Vieira (Portugal) and Masatora Kawano (Japan).
From the quintet, about five kilometers before the end, Dunfee had to tear down first, but Hilbert held on. The newly formed quartet later disbanded. Hilbert and Tur the Spaniard accelerated, sat down and had a brief chat.
Without cooling bowl and cap
Two kilometers from the finish, Hilbert parted from his cooling scarf, then his cap also flew away. Now he left Tur standing too and went towards his silver sensation.
It was a farewell performance because the International Olympic Committee removed 50 kilometers of walking from the program. It has not yet been decided whether the shortened version or a team mixed competition with two women and two men for the 50 kilometers will be included at the 2024 Summer Games in Paris.