Tallent DQ'd from national 20km race walk3 February 2014
Olympic star Jared Tallent was sensationally disqualified from the national 20km race walk with the title almost in his grasp.
Tallent led Sunday's race in Hobart by about 60 metres entering the final lap only to be DQ'd by an official in the closing stages, handing Victoria's Dane Bird-Smith his first national senior crown.
An Olympic silver medallist over 50km in both Beijing and London and bronze medallist at 20km in Beijing, 29-year-old Tallent received his final warning with 3km to go and crossed the line thinking he'd won, only to learn otherwise.
Bird-Smith clocked 1h22m39s to win from two-time Olympian Chris Erickson (Vic, 1:25:23) and Rhydian Cowley (Vic, 1:26.49).
Bird-Smith and Cowley gained automatic selection in the 20km for this year's IAAF World Race Walking Cup. Both Tallent and Erickson had already indicated they'll focus on the 50km event at the World Cup.
There was a similar outcome in the women's 20km race as Victorian mother-of-four Kelly Ruddick (1:34:44) claimed the title after South Australia's Tanya Holliday was disqualified while leading in the final lap.
Ruddick's win came just six weeks after she suffered broken ribs and she also gained automatic World Race Walking Cup selection, winning from local Stephanie Stigwood (1:37:39) with Tallent's sister Rachel Tallent( Vic,1:38:38) securing bronze.
Bird-Smith was excited by his performance.
"It was an unbelievable race, especially with that final result," Bird-Smith said.
"My plan coming into today was to go with boys like Jared and Chris, sit with them and work towards keeping the time low.
"Jared then slammed the pace down with about 4km to go, we went from 4:10 pace to 3:40 pace each kilometre and it was tough on the legs that's for sure.
"I was so happy to be able to hold on as well as I did.
"My last 2km was 7:40 which is awesome, we negative split the two halves of the race, 42:40 to 39:50, which is huge and I have been working so much on back end pace so it's good to see the results of that.
"It was good to see my training partner Rhydian do well too. His time should warrant automatic selection for World Walk Cup, which is a great result for the squad."