Alana Barber walked the race of her life in the 20km race walk at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing this morning to finish 18th in a New Zealand record of 1:33:20.
The 28 year old from Auckland cut 1:47 off her own national record set in Adelaide in February.
Sticking to a pre-race plan Barber set out at a pace to achieve a career best time which saw her near the rear of the field. But as the race progressed and churning out consistent 23 minute 5km splits she rapidly moved through the field.
"I'm super happy, I can't believe it. I wanted to get a PB and the race went exactly how I wanted it to go, it's a shame that I was just a little off the Olympic B standard. But looking back at the race I don't know what I could have done better because everything went to plan and the last 5km I was going into oxygen debt and I could hear my own breathing and I was worried it wasn't sustainable, but I'm glad that I stuck it out over that last 5km," she said.
"It felt like I was second to last over the first kilometre which I was okay about as I wanted my pace at 4:40's which was a PB pace right from the beginning, and in that situation you can't worry about anyone else.
Barber said it was a great feeling coming through while everyone she was passing was suffering.
"They were just dropping off like flies, I couldn't believe it. It was exactly how I imagined it would be like.
"The heat didn't feel like it affected me, I'd gone into it thinking this could be really hot, be prepared, pour on lots of water, take on lots of liquid and because I prepared like that it was fine."
Alana was hoping that enough either dropped off or were disqualified to push her up a few more places and beat her partner Quentin Rew's 17th placing earlier in the championships in the men's 20km race walk.
"That would have been awesome," said a delighted Barber.
Barber spent some time out in the arena after the event renewing friendships with walking buddies including Australia's Rachel Tallent who was 34th in 1:36:27.
"Rachel and I had done a lot or work together prior to this race. Before the race I wasn't talking to any of the other competitors, even though I hadn't seen them for such a long time, and although everyone was really tired at the end it was a chance to catch up in a kind of a drained way," said Barber.
Barber who won the New Zealand title last year said that training in Canberra and Japan prior to the race had set her up well for a good performance.
There are two IAAF approved races in Australia in December and February which Barber will use to gain an Olympic Games qualifier.
from Murray McKinnon in Beijing