Forty kilometers to fly over the race then the suffering, the ordeal.

In Rio, seized by excruciating intestinal pain when he was well ahead of the 50 km walk, Yohann Diniz had collapsed and stood up several times before finishing, writing his legend in passing.

Five years after his Stations of the Cross under the eyes of Christ the Redeemer of Corcovado, the French walker hopes to conclude on Friday August 6 his Olympic history, that of his discipline as well as his career on a high note.

It is on the island of Hokkaido that will be played the last act of an ordeal so often marked by dramas and long epics in which Yohann Diniz, 43, was at times the unhappy actor.

As the symbol of the end of an era, it is the occasion that the Rémois chose to put an end to his career, the most beautiful that a Frenchman has known in this discipline so unpredictable and so demanding.

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"I am happy and sad to participate in this last race in history. Each athlete will want to leave his mark on it," said the 2017 world champion and three-time European champion (2006, 2010, 2014).

Yohann Diniz has still not digested the decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) taken at the end of 2020 in the name of parity, the 50 km walk to be replaced by a mixed event, and would have for nothing in the world missed this meeting. you, he who has won everything in more than 20 years spent on the asphalt, except precisely the title at the Olympics.

For his final appearance, Yohann Diniz, who will play his fourth Games, says he is "relaxed", "serene" and "without pressure".

He knows better than anyone what an improbable scenario a 50 km walk can hold, and its "random" character, to evoke precise objectives.

Careful preparation

Three after Rio, at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, he had also suffered from the heat, defeated by the Qatari furnace after 16 km of racing.

In Sapporo, conditions will not be much better, so the Frenchman has stepped up preparations for his final challenge.

Yohann Diniz has increased the number of internships in Portugal, at the University of Coimbra, under the watchful eye of Professor Cupido Amando Santos.

He carried out more than 70 sessions in a thermal chamber.

"I did the job for a year. After the world championships in Doha, I knew that I had to work in these conditions and I did it seriously", explains the world record holder (3 h 32 min 33 sec since 2014), recalling having experienced the same extreme conditions at the Osaka Worlds in 2007 that he finished in second place.

"It is especially the humidity that is heavy, the heat is not the most complicated."

"More than the absolute performance, it is the way in which the organizations manage to resist that will make the difference", estimates Pascal Chirat, the manager of the French walkers.

Still, Yohann Diniz will leave without recent references.

Indeed, since his world title in 2017, he has only finished a 50-kilometer walk.

It was in the spring of 2019, a solo victory at the European Cup in Lithuania, in an excellent time that qualified him for the Olympics.

"There was the Covid. I wanted to do the 50 km of the French championships last March but they were canceled. With Gilles and Pascal (Rocca and Chirat, his coaches), we decided not to take the head, to focus everything on the preparation, without taking any risk, "he sweeps in the Team.

He claims to "know by heart" the distance and has not performed a test session for the deadline.

“It was good when I was 30 but I learned as I got older that it wasn't much use,” he says.

"We will already see what will happen if I manage to fight against the thermal conditions. After that there will be another fight to get places of honor."

One last fight and one last march to glory.

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