Algarvian race walker João Vieira finished fifth in the men’s 50km race walk at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, just two spots away from an Olympic medal.
The 45-year-old athlete, born in Portimão but living in Rio Maior, completed the 50km race in 3:51:28, one minute and 20 seconds behind winner Dawid Tomala (3:50:08) and just 29 seconds behind third-placed Evan Dunfee (3:50:59).
The event was moved from Tokyo to Sapporo in an attempt to give race walkers some respite from the Japanese capital’s humidity and heat. Nonetheless, the extreme temperatures were still a huge obstacle that all competitors had to face.
“I am very happy with this result, not every athlete can finish fifth and I came here to fight with all my strength,” Vieira told Lusa news agency after the race.
Admitting that these might be his last Olympic games, the 45-year-old athlete said he did his duty.
“I took a risk and finished fifth. I’m happy. I’m at the peak of my career. Even though it isn’t a medal, finishing fifth is very good,” he said.
Vieira has now added an Olympic diploma to an already successful career, the highlights of which include a silver medal at the 2019 World Athletics Championships, where he finished second in the 50 km race walk and became the oldest medalist ever at the competition at the age of 43, and a bronze medal at the 2010 European Athletics Championships.