Soon-to-be World Cup winner Maria Vasco in a moment of difficulty in Chihuahua (Getty Images) © Copyright
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'This win was the best race ever for me,' says Vasco

An emotional Maria Vasco laid bare the truth of a trying year - until now.

The 34-year-old Spaniard has managed the juggling act of nursing a sick mother while trying to train for her first victory in the IAAF World Race Walking Cup - in fact, her first major victory anywhere.

But not only did the tears flow at the medal ceremony, her bank account will look a little more fluid with the $30,000 first prize to help out at home.

She said: “My father died four years ago, and my goal was to make sure my mother who is sick doesn’t want for anything. It was very emotional.

“I thought Vera (Santos) would be favourite today, but I was watching things closely, and although I was vomiting a little at one point - in the end I was stronger than her.

“This win was the best race ever for me - even though I have other important medals.”

Portuguese Santos also thought she had a gold in the bag, but agreed the better walker won on the day.

She said: “I was not able to push hard enough against such a talented and experienced walker like Maria. I came here with great confidence - but had to make do with second.”

However, Santos and her team-mates were delighted to win team gold, and third place Ines Henriques was the recipient of a decisive break that allowed her to pass Russian Vera Sokolova for third.

The Portuguese said: “I kept thinking I needed to look forward rather than back. And Maria and Vera did me a great favour when they dropped the Russian, which allowed me to shorten the distance between us. I’ve done well in the IAAF Challenge this year - but this result gives me great hope for the European Championships.”

Paul Warburton for the IAAF