Today in Transportation History – 1984: A Talented Racewalker is Born

Racewalking champion Jared Tallent was born in the city of Ballarat in the southeastern Australian state of Victoria. At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Tallent won his first Olympic medal when he finished third in the men’s 20 kilometers (km) race walk (a distance of 12.4274 miles). He earned a silver medal at those games a week later for finishing second in the 50 km race walk (a distance of approximately 31 miles); this made him the first Australian to receive two athletic medals at the same Olympics since 1972 and the first Australian male to do so in more than a century.

In 2010, Tallent won a bronze medal in the 50 km walk at the IAAF World Race Walking Cup in Chihuahua, Mexico, and a gold medal in the 20 km walk at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India. He also took part in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and initially received a silver medal in the men’s 50 km walk. Original first-place winner Sergey Kirdyapkin of Russia was subsequently stripped of his gold medal by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) for doping, however, and that gold medal was awarded instead to Tallent. The CAS decision also made Tallent – who had achieved a personal best time of three hours, 36 minutes, and 53 seconds in the race – the all-time Olympic record holder for that event.

In June 2016, Tallent was formally presented his gold medal at a ceremony held outside Parliament House in Victoria’s state capital of Melbourne. “When I was a kid growing up in Ballarat, I was always inspired by the Olympic Games,” he said in an interview during the ceremony. “To be able to go to the Olympics and win a gold medal is beyond my wildest dreams.” He added, “And to get the gold medal here, so close, and the first one awarded in Melbourne since the 1956 Games, makes it so special.”

Two months later, Tallent earned the silver medal for the men’s 50 km race walk at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. This fourth Olympic medal made him Australia’s most decorated male Olympian in track and field events. Tallent has also been awarded the prestigious Medal of the Order of Australia for his racewalking achievements.

For more information about Jared Tallent, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jared_Tallent and the Guardian newspaper article “Jared Tallent finally awarded his 2012 Olympic gold medal in Melbourne” (16 June 2016) at https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/jun/17/jared-tallent-finally-awarded-his-2012-olympic-gold-medal-in-melbourne

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