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Last Updated: Monday, 23 August, 2004, 07:39 GMT 08:39 UK
Greece wins walk gold
Athanasia Tsoumeleka
Tsoumeleka had been an outsider to win the event
Athanasia Tsoumeleka gave Greece their first track and field gold medal of the Athens Olympics with a surprise victory in the women's 20km walk.

The 22-year-old broke away from the pack at the 15km mark and then held off a late challenge by world record holder Olimpiada Ivanova of Russia.

The Greek's winning time was one hour 29 minutes and 12 seconds.

Australian Jane Saville, disqualified 150m from the finish at the Sydney Olympics when leading, took bronze.

It was a personal best time for Tsoumeleka, whose previous best result had been in finishing seventh at last year's world championships.

As she entered the stadium at the end of the race, the Greek woman was given a rapturous welcome by the partisan crowd.

Tsoumeleka then paid tribute to Greek sprinters Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou, who withdrew from the Games after missing drugs tests in mysterious circumstances.

"I wanted the medal so much. I thank God," she said.

"I got great strength from what happened with our two athletes, Costas and Katerina. I firmly believe they did nothing wrong.

"They gave me great strength. I have been always dreaming of them. Katerina comes from my home town in northwestern Greece, Preveza."



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