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Games-Athletics (50Km Road Walk Men)

KUALA LUMPUR, 21 Sept 98 (Bernama):

BY Ramnath Shenoy and Asan Ahmad


SARAVANAN WINS MALAYSIA'S FIRST EVER GOLD IN ATHLETICS
Malaysia has finally made it -- winning their first ever Commonwealth Games athletics gold when Saravanan Govindasamy walked the race of his life to grab the men's 50 km road walk in a drama-packed action here today.

"I want to dedicate this medal to all my Malaysian supporters," the 28-year-old bank employee said as shouts of "Malaysia Boleh... Malaysia Boleh.." rent the air.

Visibly overwhelmed by the victory, Saravanan, who won gold in the South East Asian Games last year, announced his retirment from international competition but gave no reason for the decision.

"I can't give the reason," he said.

But when asked by a fan later if he is not competing in the Olympics in 2000, Saravan asked: "Where is the (financial) support."

Waiting anxiously at the finish line, which he crossed in a personal best time of four hours, 10.05 secs, was his wife Shashikala, with their three-month-old baby boy, Prasad, in her arms.

Australians Duane Cousins and Dominic McGrath claimed the silver and bronze with times of 4:10:30 and 4:12:52 respectively.

In fact, Saravanan was lucky to get gold.

New Zealand's Craig Barrett was leading into the last lap but collapsed due to heat exhaustion.

"He is seriously suffering from heat exhaustion and he is unconscious," Chef-de-mission Les Mills said, adding, he is being treated in a hospital.


-- BERNAMA



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