RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 5 (Reuters) - Australia's Jared Tallent has pulled out of the 20km walk at the Rio Games because of a hamstring problem but will defend his Olympic title in the 50km race.
The 31-year-old, second across the line in London in 2012, was awarded the 50km gold in a special ceremony in Melbourne in June after Russian Sergey Kirdyapkin had his result wiped from the record books for doping.
Captain of the Australian track and field team at the Rio Games, Tallent said he had felt "a niggle" in his hamstring and decided to withdraw from the shorter event, which is the first final in the athletics competition next Friday.
"The 50k has always been my main focus, my priority, that's the one I'm hopefully going to win a medal in," he told Australia's Channel Seven TV.
"Although I would have liked to be out there in the 20k, it's just best not to risk it at this stage and put everything into the 50k. I want to have everything right for that."
Tallent won medals in both walks at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, bronze in the 20km along with a silver in the 50km, but was seventh at the shorter distance in London.
The 50km walk takes place on the eighth day of athletics competition in Rio on Aug. 19.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Tom Brown)