Italy's Antonella Palmisano won the women's Olympic 20km race walk on Friday with a time of one hour, 29 minutes and 12 seconds, bringing her country its first gold medal in the event.

Colombia's Sandra Lorena Arenas claimed silver, and China's Liu Hong took bronze.

It was a tight leaders' pack through the first three-quarters of the race until Palmisano moved ahead at the 16km mark as the racers pushed the pace.

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Palmisano turned on the jets around the 18km mark and never looked back, giving herself the ultimate birthday present - an Olympic gold medal - as she turned 30 on Friday.

Brazil's Erica Sena had looked set to take bronze but in heartbreaking fashion received a third penalty just ahead of the finish line and had to sit out briefly. She finished 11th.