He had done everything to finally win his first Olympic medal when it was time to bow out. He had even spent several months working in a thermal chamber in Portugal to prepare his body for the climatic conditions of Sapporo (85% humidity). But it is still the disillusion that overwhelmed Yohann Diniz this Friday August 6. Exhausted, the latter threw in the towel halfway through the last 50 km walk in the history of the Olympic Games.
With a sign of the arms meaning “it’s good, I’m quitting“, the world record holder for the distance put an end to his ordeal after 2h15 to make the elastic between the leading group and the back of the race.”I tried not to leave like a warrior too much and keep some for the future. I didn’t panic when I got knocked out of the leading group. But I was subjected to the bitumen. Before the race, I had pain in my back, pelvis and adductors. I had hurt myself so much in Rio and London that in hindsight I shouldn’t have been there. The body no longer wanted. Maybe it was the competition too many“, he reacted warmly to our microphone, disillusioned but honest.
From the top of his 43 years, the native of Epernay hoped to have finally removed his demons. From his abandonment in the humidity of Beijing in 2008, to his gastric troubles in Rio in 2016 (8th at the finish), to the withdrawal of his bronze medal after crossing the line in London – because of non-regulatory refueling – Yohann Diniz had digested everything. On August 13, 2017, just one year after his Brazilian disillusionment, he had to wait until he was 39 to be crowned world champion for the first time. His uncontrollable euphoria at the London finish line seemed to click, like the moment when he finally managed to wring his neck at the whims of fate.
But resilience doesn’t always pay off. Diniz had the proof during the last Worlds in Doha in 2019, with another retirement. This time, it was the extreme heat of Qatar that got the better of him, after only 16 km of racing. Despite this alert, the will to write the last page of his career in Tokyo was too strong, unaltered despite the imbroglio of the postponement. Like Sisyphus, Yohann Diniz tried again to carry his rock to the top of the mountain to descend the slope again before reaching his goal.
Unlike the son of Eole, the fatality that overwhelms the tricolor walker is not eternal. The latter confirmed that he would no longer put on his shoes and no longer pin a bib in competition, removing any prospect of a new disillusionment at the Olympics. “Of the Olympics, I will not have great memories. Unfortunately, I will not write a page about Olympic athletics. But I’ve been through so many ups and downs that I know I’ll get over it“, reassured the one who will not take away his title of world champion 2017, his three European gold medals (2006, 2010, 2014) and who remains the fastest man in the history on 50 km walk.