China's Wang and Cai walk to 20km gold, silver

Wang Zhen led compatriot Cai Zelin across the line for a Chinese 1-2 in the men's 20km walk at the Rio Olympics on Friday, claiming his first major title after a bronze at the London Games and two world championship silvers.

Wang Zhen (right) and his compatriot Cai Zelin celebrate after their victory.   -  Reuters

Wang Zhen led compatriot Cai Zelin across the line for a Chinese 1-2 in the men's 20km walk at the Rio Olympics on Friday, claiming his first major title after a bronze at the London Games and two world championship silvers. The 24-year-old hit the front some 3,000 metres from the finish, opening up a sizeable gap on Cai and crossing the line to claim gold after a gruelling one hour, 19.14 minutes in the Rio sun.

Wang, his hair plastered to his head and his red shorts and singlet saturated in sweat, waved his arms in triumph then turned to embrace Cai (1:19.26), having kept the Olympic title in Chinese hands for the second successive Games.

Australia's Dane Bird-Smith, whose father and coach David Smith competed in the event at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics, was third with a personal best time of 1:19.37 to claim a bronze medal in his first Olympics.

The Queenslander's first sub-80 minute time kept local hopeful Caio Bonfim out of the medals with the Brazilian having to settle for fourth in a national record time of 1:19.42.

London Olympic champion Chen Ding finished 39th, while world champion Miguel Angel Lopez was 11th, dashing his hopes of winning Spain's first gold medal in athletics since the 1992 Barcelona Games.

Wang remained embedded in the pack for the first 17 kilometres while first Kenya's Samuel Gathimba and then Britain's Tom Bosworth set the early pace on the road circuit in the beachside suburb of Pontal. Bosworth crossed the line in sixth place but Gathimba failed to finish.

Dane-Smith's compatriot Jared Tallent, bronze medallist at the distance in Beijing in 2008, pulled out of the race because of a minor hamstring problem, deciding to focus on defending his 50km title instead.

There were no Russians in the race because of the ban handed out by the IAAF after a World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) report unearthed evidence of state-sponsored doping.

India's Manish Singh finished 13th in the race, registering a time of 1:21:21. The other Indians, Gurmeet Singh and Ganapathi Krishnan, were disqualified before the 10km mark.