Walk into history: Montag claims Australia’s first medal at world championships

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Budapest: Jemima Montag has won Australia’s first medal at the world athletics championships in Budapest, claiming silver in the 20-kilometre race walk.

Montag, the 25-year-old from Melbourne, became not only the first Australian to medal at these championships but also the first Australian woman to win a walking medal at the world titles since Kerry Saxby-Junna won bronze in Seville in 1999, after also winning silver in Rome in 1987.

Bronze medallist Antonella Palmisano of Italy, Gold medallist Maria Perez of Spain and Silver medallist Jemima Montag of Australia after the 20-metre race walkCredit: Getty Images

Montag claimed silver in 1 hour 27 minutes 16 seconds, 25 seconds behind the winner Maria Perez from Spain.

After two Commonwealth Games gold medals this was a step onto the world stage for the Melbourne walker.

Montag broke free of the chasing pack but couldn’t catch Perez.Credit: Reuters

The Spaniard, Perez, had set up a big lead halfway through the 20km race. With five kilometres to go, Montag went after her and cut from the chase group to trim the lead.

Within a kilometre – one lap of the Heroes’ Square course – she had closed on Perez and opened up an 11-second gap on the chase pack. She was chasing gold.

It was a gutsy attack and she got close but could not rein in the Spaniard.

Montag has won gold at the past two Commonwealth Games, but this was another level again.

At last year’s Birmingham Games Montag spoke about carrying the history of her family on her wrist in the form of a small gold bracelet made from a necklace that belonged to her grandmother.

Her grandmother escaped the Holocaust and the concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, walking through ice and snow scrounging for food with her sister to flee to freedom.


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