A SENSATIONAL performance saw Brendan Boyce finish sixth in the men’s 50k race walk at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha.
Boyce moonwalked over the line as the Finn Valley AC man finished the race in four hours, seven minutes and 46 seconds.
Boyce has consistently said this summer that he was aiming for a top eight placing – and he bettered that target in muggy conditions.
Yūsuke Suzuki of Japan won gold in 4:04:20 with Portugal’s João Viera taking silver after finishing in 4:04.59.
Evan Dunfee from Canada took bronze as he finished in 4:05:02, while Chinese duo Wenbin Niu (4:05:36) – who had two red cards – and Yadong Luo (4:06:49) were just ahead of Boyce.
The mercury was touching 30 degrees and humidity was at 75 degrees when the race – one of the toughest events in world sport – got underway at 11.30pm in the Qatar capital.
So tough were conditions that the IAAF had to issue confirmation early on Saturday that the event was going ahead.
It followed the women’s marathon on Friday night when an estimated 40 per cent of the participants dropped out and 30 of them required attention at the Medical Centre.
However, the IAAF, in a statement on Saturday, were at pains to stress that the marathon ‘completed without any cases of heat stroke’.
Boyce was 14th at the midway point, when just over a minute separated the participants from second to 15th places.
Boyce climbed into the top ten before he reached 30k – and he was just over a minute outside the medal places heading for the testing last 20k.
— Athletics Ireland (@irishathletics) September 29, 2019
The Milford man rose up to seventh by the 35k marker and was only 30 seconds off fifth place at that point.
Boyce was sixth, having passed Ukraine’s Maryan Zakalnytskyy, over the final 10k and passed 45k in 3:43:52 – just over five minutes away from Suzuki.
The Japanese walker stopped to a stroll three times during the closing stages and he was able to hold onto his lead to the finish.
Boyce has already qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
In finishing fifth at the European Race Walking Championships in Alytus, Lithuania, in May Boyce set a new PB of 3:48:13 – shaving 42 seconds off his previous record – to book his place in Japan.