By Will Downing, Beijing
Alex Wright’s first major international championship for Ireland ended early as he was disqualified just past the halfway mark in the men’s 20k walk at the World Athletics Championships in Beijing.
The 25-year-old London-born athlete, who finished 31st for Britain at the last Worlds in Moscow two years ago, was eliminated 50 minutes into the race after being penalised three times for losing contact with the ground.
Wright was one of five athletes DQed from the original starting list of 61.
Gold inside the Birds Nest stadium went to Miguel Angel Lopez of Spain, who completed the twenty kilometres in a personal best time of 1 hour, 19 minutes, 14 seconds – 15 seconds clear of much-supported home athlete Wang Zhen of China, with Ben Thorne third in 1:19:57, a new Canadian national record.
Irish interest will be strong in the evening session with Thomas Barr and Mark English involved in semi-finals in the 400m hurdles and 800m respectively.
Mark English in the European Indoors in March.
Barr’s hurdles semi-final is underway at 11:40am Irish time and English goes in the 800 semis at 1:30pm.
Disaster meanwhile hit Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s assault of the heptathlon gold medal, ending her duel at the top with compatriot Jessica Ennis-Hill.
Lying in second place, eighty points behind team-mate Ennis-Hill heading into day two, Johnson-Thompson failed to record a mark in the long jump – two early fouls were followed by a third where a tiny encroachment onto the plasticine was scrutinised by the judges before it was confirmed KJT had fouled again.
As a result, Ennis-Hill went 102 points clear with Athlone IT Indoor Grand Prix visitor Brianne Theisen-Easton of Canada moving up into second temporarily.
A strong javelin competition by the Netherlands’ Nadine Broersen sees her now lying second, 86 points behind Ennis-Hill, with only the 800m to come – the event where the Briton crossed the line first to clinch Olympic gold at London 2012.
An astonishing second heat in the men’s 400m hurdles made headlines too with a shared time of 43.93 seconds earning Youssef Ahmed Masrahi of Saudi Arabia a new Asian record and Rusheen McDonald a new Jamaican national record – it’s the second-fastest time in the world this year.