A women’s 50 kilometres race walk event will feature for the first time at an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships when this year's edition takes place here next month, it was announced today.
It was previously the case that women only competed in a 20km race walk at the event and the Olympic Games, while men competed over the same distance and in a 50km event.
The women's 50km race walk was recognised as an official event by the IAAF in January 2017.
Its addition brings the number of medal events at the 2017 World Championships, due to take place from August 4 to 13, to 48.
Scheduled to start at the same time as the men’s event on the final day of the Championships, the women’s 50km race walk will have separate results and prize money.
The entry standard is 4 hours 30min, which athletes must achieve by Tuesday (July 25) in order to compete in the event.
In order for athletes to be allowed to finish the race in London they will be required to start the last two-kilometres lap within the time limit of 4:17:00.
"The IAAF Council’s decision to create a new 50km race walk competition for women with separate results and prize money at the World Championships in London follows the 2016 IAAF Race Walking Team Championships in Rome, where one female athlete from the USA joined her four male team-mates," IAAF President Sebastian Coe said.
"There has been equal prize money for men and women at the IAAF World Championships since the introduction of financial rewards in the early 1990s and this decision brings gender quality in terms of competition opportunity too.
"But we must acknowledge this has been a last-minute decision based upon the request of a small group of athletes.
"Therefore, to ensure the long-term credibility of the World Championships, we will follow the recommendation of the Race Walking Committee and assess the development of the event to determine whether there are sufficient numbers of athletes and countries legitimately interested."
Earlier this year, the IAAF Race Walking Committee proposed introducing a mixed gender 4x5,000m track relay at the 2019 World Championships in Doha and the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
It is one of six outcomes detailed in a Committee report, which was presented to the IAAF Council during a meeting in London in April.
Encouraging Area Championships to at least include the mixed gender track relay in 2019 and 2020 formed part of the same agreement.
Among the other agreements was the introduction of insole technology to assist judging "as soon as possible" and by the 2019 IAAF World Championships at the latest.
The technology could be field tested alongside current judging protocol at the 2018 IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships in Chinese city Taicang, where the same competition programme will be maintained on agreement of the Committee.
Considering the introduction of a 2x5,000m mixed relay at 2020 IAAF World Under-20 Championships, on top of the individual 10,000m, was also agreed.
This is in addition to changing the international distance for race walking for 2019 and 2020 to the half-marathon for both men and women, and maintaining the 10,000m race walk as the distance for under-20 men and women at least until the 2020 IAAF World Under-20 Championships.
Reviewing distances and formats for race walking events after Tokyo 2020 - based on feedback from the IAAF, the International Olympic Committee, coaches and athletes - completed the list of agreements.