Despite being rattled by two early red cards, Australian Jared Tallent fought back superbly to claim his third Olympic medal on Saturday - grabbing silver for the second successive Games in the 50km walk.

In a fast race on a sunny day at The Mall in central London where the top five broke their personal bests, Tallent charged home to finish less than a minute behind gold medallist Sergey Kirdyapkin from Russia.

Tallent stepped up the pace and clocked a stunning split of 42 minutes in the last 10 kilometres, picking off everyone ahead of him except Kirdyapkin, who clocked an Olympic record of three hours 35 minutes and 59 seconds.

Tallent was second in 3:36:53 and Si Tianfeng of China took the bronze.

The podium finish for Tallent had looked highly unlikely a couple of hours earlier, when he was just one warning away from disqualification.

"I've never had two red cards that early in a 50K race before and it looked like my Olympic dream of winning was disappearing," said Tallent.

"For the next 10 kilometres I was really nervous.

"With every lap I came around past the chief judge I thought this was going to be it and it would be the end of my race.

"But after another 10 kilometres I was really just thinking about my technique and trying to stay relaxed and comfortable.

"It was tough. Towards about 35K I started to relax a lot more and focused on catching the leaders.

"I just tried to stay strong and finish the best that I could."

The 27-year-old from Ballarat is accumulating an impressive haul of major medals.

He now has two Olympic silvers in the 50km race and a bronze in the 20km at the Beijing Games, along with bronze in the 50km at last year's world championships and gold in the 20km at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Tallent was also the leading Australian in seventh in the 20km race earlier in the London Games.

Kirdyapkin, 32, had previously won this event at the 2005 and 2009 world championships.

Tallent felt he had done everything possible to catch the Russian.

"The Olympic Games is obviously pretty special for me," he said.

"To get my third Olympic medal is pretty special.

"I would have loved the gold but Kirdyapkin really showed his class today.

"He's won two world titles, a World Cup and the Olympics so he's a true champion.

"I gave it my best."

Fellow Australians Nathan Deakes and Luke Adams were 22nd and 26th respectively and both finished the event in some distress and required medical attention.

Tallent's tally of three medals equalled the most by a male Australian track and field athlete at Olympic level.

Sprinter Stan Rowley was the bronze medallist in the 60m, 100m and 200m at the 1900 Games in Paris.

Rowley also won gold representing Britain in a mixed 5000m team event at the same Games.

Tallent's silver was the third track and field medal won by Australia in London, following Sally Pearson's victory in the 100m hurdles and Mitchell Watt's silver in the men's long jump.

NZ Newswire

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