Sapporo (Japan) (AFP)

Frenchman Yohann Diniz, who at 43 was competing in the last race of his career, retired shortly after mid-race in the 50 km walk of the Tokyo Olympics in Sapporo on Friday morning.

World champion in 2017, Diniz has never managed to win a medal at the Olympic Games in four participations (retirement in 2008, disqualification in 2012, 8th in 2016).

World record holder since 2014 (3:32:33), Diniz nevertheless experienced a last lively race: quickly embarrassed by gastric problems according to World Athletics, he had stopped several times to refuel, losing contact with the head and being almost two minutes behind at the tenth kilometer, before coming back dramatically to the front as it approached halfway.

But he let go of the leading pack again, after several more stops, and finally sat down on a sidewalk, his head in his hands, after 2h15 of the race, shortly after the 28th kilometer.

"It was one too many competition, one too many Olympics," he said.

"I did not leave very quickly, I had a stomach ache, I stopped, after I had to catch up, I quietly returned to the leading group, but I quickly felt that I 'was tired, that I had no legs at all, I had adductor pain, back pain, I did not have good feelings, I had trouble with my breathing, ”Diniz explained.

"Physically, my body was not responding", summarized the three-time European champion (2006, 2010, 2014).

The 50 km walk will disappear from the Olympic program after Tokyo, to make way for a mixed team walk event.

The event is one of five that were relocated to Sapporo, a thousand kilometers north of Tokyo, by decision of the IOC in the fall of 2019, in search of better weather conditions than in the Japanese capital.

At 5:30 am, the start was given under 26 degrees and nearly 85% humidity.

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