The men's 50k walk on Friday - where Ireland's Rob Heffernan finished sixth - was one filled with drama.
At one point Yohann Diniz had a lead of 1:48 and looked like he was heading for an easy victory. The Frenchman would be reeled in after he was forced to stop due to stomach problems. Heroically, he would finish eighth despite collapsing on numerous occasions.
The man who took over from Diniz as leader was Canadian Evan Dunfee. He would too eventually fall down the field and finish fourth as Slovakian Matej Toth claimed the gold.
Australian Jared Tallent took the silver and, eventually, Hirooki Arai of Japan was awarded the bronze.
Arai had finished third but was disqualified after the race as a referee judged the Japanese walker to have made an infringement by bumping into the Canadian. That meant Dunfee was promoted, briefly, up to third. However, after an appeal, Arai was later reinstated to the bronze medal position.
Further recourse was available to Dunfee. He could have referred his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. That is not an option which he will take.
In an admirable statement released via Athletics Canada, Dunfee explained why he is not taking further action.
What a day, 4th place at the Olympics in a new National Record. I couldn’t be more proud of my efforts out on the course today, I know that I left everything I possibly had out there and I can’t ask for anything more than that.
As many of your know after the race I was temporarily upgraded to the Bronze medal due to a disqualification of the Japanese athlete after an altercation we had around the 49km mark. Following the race our coaching staff asked for a review of the video at which point the track referee decided that an infraction had taken place.
Following that the Japanese, as is their right, filed an appeal. This afternoon we learned that this appeal was successful and he had been reinstated to the Bronze medal position.
It was then left for me to decide whether to pursue this further with an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Following my return to the village and my viewing of the incident I made the decision not to appeal, as I believe the right decision stood.
Not many people can understand the pain athletes are in three and a half hours into such a grueling race. I believe that both the Japanese athlete and myself got tangled up but what broke me was that I let it put me off mentally and once I lost that focus, my legs went to jello. Contact is part of our event, whether written or unwritten and is quite common, and I don’t believe that this was malicious or done with intent. Even if an appeal to CAS were successful I would not have been able to receive that medal with a clear conscience and it isn’t something I would have been proud of.
I will sleep soundly tonight, and for the rest of my life, knowing I made the right decision. I will never allow myself to be defined by the accolades I receive, rather the integrity I carry through life.
Finally, thank you to everyone who supported myself and my teammate Mathieu Bilodeau today. To see race walk receiving such a wide reception is absolutely amazing! My teammates and my competitors in this event never cease to inspire me and I hope that we have done the same to you today.
Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile