LONDON – Rio Olympic bronze medalist Hirooki Arai finished second and fellow Japanese Kai Kobayashi third in the men’s 50-km race walk at the world athletics championships Sunday.
Arai finished in a season best of 3 hours, 41 minutes and 17 seconds, edging Kobayashi by two seconds as Japan medaled in the event for the second straight meet.
World record-holder Yohann Diniz of France captured the gold medal in a championships record of 3:33:12. The third racer from Japan, Satoshi Maruo, was fifth in 3:43:03.
With Rio silver medalist Jared Tallent out of the race with a hamstring injury, Arai said failure was not an option.
“Without Australia’s Tallent in the race, I felt compelled to win a medal,” the 29-year-old Arai said. “Having gotten the job done, I’m relieved.
“I feel with this I was able to give something back to all those who have supported me.”
Kobayashi credited Arai for his podium finish.
“As we were racing, Arai-san spoke to me many times and told me that we were both going to make it. Thanks to that, I was able to hang in there,” said Kobayashi, who competed in only the second 50-km race of his career.
The medals were the second and third for Japan following its bronze in the men’s 4×100-meter relay on Saturday.