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Women[]

Marathon Swim Qualification (Women): Anderson (USA) wins, another 14 got their ticket to London[]

by Pedro Adrega, Head of FINA Communications Department from June 2012


After giving the starting signal for the women’s FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier in the bay of Setúbal, Rosa Mota, the first Portuguese female gold Olympic medallist waited less for the final of the race than her time in the 1988 successful marathon in the roads of Seoul (KOR). The “godmother” of the Setúbal event saw the first swimmer to finish the 10km race in 1h44m30s6, much faster than a standard time in a women’s road marathon. The victory came to United States (also known as USA) Flag of the United States Haley Anderson, who got the opportunity to win her “ticket” for her first Olympic appearance.

“It was long-time dream! It finally came true. It’s an amazing feeling”, said Anderson after her effort. Discreet during the first two laps of the race – there were six loops to complete the 10km event – she started to appear in the leading group only after the first 55 minutes of the race. “It was a hard race, with a lot of physical contact. In the last 500 metres, I really made a push and it paid off. I was counting on my speed and the strategy was successful”, Anderson added.

In fact, most of the winning strategy during the race was made by Eva Risztov, of Hungary (also known as HUN) Flag of Hungary second at the end of the first lap, but always in the lead in the subsequent loops with the notable exception of the arrival. The Magyar swimmer got the silver (and also the qualification for the Olympics), leaving on her trail her teammate Anna Olasz (bronze, but no possibility of qualification, as only one spot was allowed per country).

The “national fights” were also interesting among swimmers from USA (Ashley Twichell finished fourth and will also miss the Olympics), Canada (also known as CAN) Flag of Canada (Zsofia Balazs finished sixth, qualified, ahead of her country fellow Nadine Williams, not qualified), Russia (also known as RUS) Flag of Russia (Anna Guseva, ninth, was better than Ekaterina Seliverstova in 14th, a very disappointing position, after being in the leading positions for the first five laps), China (also known as CHN) Flag of the People's Republic of China (Yanqiao Fang was faster than Xue Li), and South Africa (also known as RSA) Flag of South Africa, where Jessica Roux got the continental qualification in detriment of Natalie Du Toit, a legendary swimmer who performs only with one leg and had been present in Beijing's 2008 Olympics, for the first Olympic appearance of marathon swimming.

Passing in 21 minutes for the first loop, 37min for the second, 54min for the third, 1h11min for the fourth, 1h28min for the third and then the winning time of 1h44min, the field of 40 swimmers was packed for most of the race (the water temperature in Setúbal was 20°), with few exceptions getting progressive delay in relation to the leading competitors. Only one athlete did not finish, Mexico (also known as MEX) Flag of Mexico’s Alejandra Gonzalez Lara.

“For the last two years, I have been focusing on open water and it was tough to beat Ashley (Twichell) here. She is a great swimmer and a good friend”, commented the winner in Setúbal. Curiously, in 2008, United States (also known as USA) Flag of the United States Chloe Sutton had also been the leader of the qualification, but ended up being only 22nd in the Olympic race.

Other qualified athletes were naturally happy with this outcome. “The race was held in very good conditions. We swam fast, but there was fair-play among the swimmers. Even packed, I didn’t feel so much the physical contact. For London, I hope to arrive in the top-8”, summarised Ophelie Aspord, from France (seventh). Poland’s Natalia Charlos, eighth and also qualified for the Olympics, had a slightly different vision of the race: “The weather was a bit hot, and I felt a lot of arms hitting me. I almost lost my goggles twice. I tried to be always next to the leading athletes and I managed to stay in the front. As I like cold water, I still hope to improve in London”.

Besides the direct qualification of the first 10 ranked swimmers in the race – one by country – the remaining five qualification spots were given on a continental basis. The beneficiaries of these berths were Olga Beresnyeva (Ukraine (also known as UKR) Flag of Ukraine, 15th), Cara Baker (New Zealand (also known as NZL) Flag of New Zealand, 17th), Yanel Pinto (Venezuela (also known as VEN) Flag of Venezuela, 18th), Heidi Gan (Malaysia (also known as MAS) Flag of Malaysia, 28th), and Jessica Roux (South Africa (also known as RSA) Flag of South Africa, 31st).

The men’s race will take place this Sunday, with more than 60 swimmers on the start list. Like in the women’s race, the show will comprise acrobatic figures by planes in the air above the athletes and hundreds of spectators on site will follow the effort of the competitors.

The complete list of 25 swimmers qualified for London 2012 Olympic Games is as follows (10 from Shanghai and 15 from Setúbal):

New[]

  • Keri Anne Payne GBR (also known as GBR) Flag of the United Kingdom qualified for 2012 Olympics at Shanghai
  • Martina Grimaldi Italy (also known as ITA) Flag of Italy qualified for 2012 Olympics at Shanghai
  • Marianna Lymperta Greece (also known as GRE) Flag of Greece qualified for 2012 Olympics at Shanghai
  • Melissa Gorman Australia (also known as AUS) Flag of Australia qualified for 2012 Olympics at Shanghai
  • Cecilia Biagioli Italy (also known as ITA) Flag of Italy qualified for 2012 Olympics at Shanghai
  • Poliana Okimoto Brazil (also known as BRA) Flag of Brazil qualified for 2012 Olympics at Shanghai
  • Jana Pechanova Czech Republic (also known as CZE) Flag of the Czech Republic qualified for 2012 Olympics at Shanghai
  • Angela Maurer Germany (also known as GER) Flag of Germany qualified for 2012 Olympics at Shanghai
  • Swann Oberson Switzerland (also known as SUI) Flag of Switzerland qualified for 2012 Olympics at Shanghai
  • Erika Villaecija Spain (also known as ESP) Flag of Spain qualified for 2012 Olympics at Shanghai
  • Haley Anderson United States (also known as USA) Flag of the United States qualified for 2012 Olympics at Setúbal
  • Eva Risztov Hungary (also known as HUN) Flag of Hungary qualified for 2012 Olympics at Setúbal
  • Yanqiao Fang China (also known as CHN) Flag of the People's Republic of China qualified for 2012 Olympics at Setúbal
  • Zsofia Balazs Canada (also known as CAN) Flag of Canada qualified for 2012 Olympics at Setúbal
  • Ophelie Aspord France (also known as FRA) Flag of France qualified for 2012 Olympics at Setúbal
  • Natalia Charlos Poland (also known as POL) Flag of Poland qualified for 2012 Olympics at Setúbal
  • Anna Guseva Russia (also known as RUS) Flag of Russia qualified for 2012 Olympics at Setúbal
  • Karla Sitic Croatia (also known as CRO) Flag of Croatia qualified for 2012 Olympics at Setúbal
  • Wing Yung Natasha Terri Hong Kong (also known as HKG) Flag of Hong Kong qualified for 2012 Olympics at Setúbal
  • Yumi Kida Japan (also known as JPN) Flag of Japan qualified for 2012 Olympics at Setúbal
  • Olga Beresnyeva Ukraine (also known as UKR) Flag of Ukraine qualified for 2012 Olympics at Setúbal
  • Cara Baker New Zealand (also known as NZL) Flag of New Zealand qualified for 2012 Olympics at Setúbal
  • Yanel Pinto Venezuela (also known as VEN) Flag of Venezuela qualified for 2012 Olympics at Setúbal
  • Heidi Gan Malaysia (also known as MAS) Flag of Malaysia qualified for 2012 Olympics at Setúbal
  • Jessica Roux South Africa (also known as RSA) Flag of South Africa qualified for 2012 Olympics at Setúbal

Junk[]

Keri-Anne Payne (GBR) - Shanghai Martina Grimaldi (ITA) - Shanghai Marianna Lymperta (GRE) - Shanghai Melissa Gorman (AUS) - Shanghai Cecilia Biagioli (ITA) - Shanghai Poliana Okimoto (BRA) - Shanghai Jana Pechanova (CZE) – Shanghai Angela Maurer (GER) – Shanghai Swann Oberson (SUI) – Shanghai Erika Villaecija (ESP) - Shanghai Haley Anderson (USA) - Setúbal Eva Risztov (HUN) - Setúbal Yanqiao Fang (CHN) - Setúbal Zsofia Balazs (CAN) - Setúbal Ophelie Aspord (FRA) - Setúbal Natalia Charlos (POL) - Setúbal Anna Guseva (RUS) - Setúbal Karla Sitic (CRO) - Setúbal Wing Yung Natasha Terri (HKG) - Setúbal Yumi Kida (JPN) - Setúbal Olga Beresnyeva (UKR) - Setúbal Cara Baker (NZL) - Setúbal Yanel Pinto (VEN) - Setúbal Heidi Gan (MAS) - Setúbal Jessica Roux (RSA) - Setúbal

Men[]

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Oussama Mellouli had warned: his entry into the open water elite would be memorable. In the second 10km event he ever raced, the star from Tunisia (also known as TUN) Flag of Tunisia won the men’s FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier held in June 2012 in Setubal Portugal (also known as POR) Flag of Portugal. Mellouli completed the race in 1h45m18s5 after a superb strategy in which he always stayed in the leading group of athletes, providing a superb and decisive attack in the last two loops of the race.

The Olympic champion of the 1500m free in Beijing China (also known as CHN) Flag of the People's Republic of China had declared in the Press Conference presenting the event in Setubal that, if qualified for London, he would fight for the medals in the British capital.

“Despite looking easy, it was a hard race! In April 2012, when I participated in my first 10km race in Cancun, I had adopted a wrong strategy – I led for a long time, and then I lost some power in the end of the race. Here, it was different: I managed myself well throughout the race and I save some energy for the end”, considered Mellouli after the medal ceremony.

“Four years ago, Grant Hackett, Australia (also known as AUS) Flag of Australia also an Olympic champion in the 1500m free, tried to qualify in marathon swimming and was not successful. I had of course that in mind when I decided to also opt for open water, but so far it paid off”, declared Mellouli, eager to defend some days before the marathon swimming event in London, his 1500m free title in the pool.

In Setubal, the first leader of the race was China (also known as CHN) Flag of the People's Republic of China Zu Lijun, who registered the fastest time in the initial three laps but lost most of his momentum in the second half of the 10km effort, finishing in a non-qualifying 23rd place.

When Zu began to fade, Valerio Cleri Italy (also known as ITA) Flag of Italy, first at the fourth lap, Mellouli, Richard Weinberger Canada (also known as CAN) Flag of Canada, Petar Stoychev Bulgaria (also known as BUL) Flag of Bulgaria and Troyden Prinsloo South Africa (also known as RSA) Flag of South Africa started to dominate the operations. Mellouli was the fastest and had a solitary lead in the last hundreds of metres but the remaining four athletes of the lead brilliantly assured their qualification – Weinberger was second (11.7s behind the winner), Stoychev got the bronze (15.6s behind), Cleri was fourth (18.3s) and Prinsloo finished fifth (22.3s).

If for Canada, this was the first qualification in the men’s event, Stoychev will swim in London his fourth Olympics (after performing in the pool in 2000 and 2004, he was the flag bearer of Bulgaria (also known as BUL) Flag of Bulgaria at the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Games, where he ranked sixth in the inaugural 10km race), Cleri will also try to do better than his fourth place four years ago, and South Africa (also known as RSA) Flag of South Africa will again have a representative in the Games – this time, Prinsloo, who did better in Portugal than 12th placed Chad Ho (who had been present in Beijing in 2008).

“I am very happy to have qualified for London. All the conditions were excellent here and in my fourth Olympics, a good result would be to stay in the top-8, confessed Petar Stoychev, one of the best open water swimmers in history and the world record holder of the English Channel. “After the Olympics, it’s time to be on the technical part of sport, not on the competitive side of it. It’s 98% certain that after London, I will think about something different. I will maybe contest the European championships later in the year, but then it will be time to retire”, said 36-year-old Stoychev.

Besides this group of five qualifiers, Japan (also known as JPN) Flag of Japan’s Yasunari Hirai also got the direct qualification in sixth, followed by Igor Chervynskiy Ukraine (also known as UKR) Flag of Ukraine, 12th in 2008 at the Games), Ivan Enderica (Ecuador (also known as ECU) Flag of Ecuador, 8th in Setubal) and local star Arseniy Lavrentyev (the Portuguese swimmer had been in Beijing four years ago, concluding in 22nd). After these first nine direct qualifiers, the continental spots went to Yuri Kudinov (KAZ, 10th), Erwin Maldonado (VEN, 11th), Csaba Gercsak (HUN, 14th), Kane Radford (NZL, 27th), and Mazen Aziz (EGY, 36th).

The main surprises from the side of the non-qualified were Allan do Carmo (BRA, 19th) and Damian Blaum (ARG, 37th), who were four years ago in the Games, concluding in 14th and 21st respectively. They are also solid swimmers in the annual FINA open water series and their success was in theory assured. The race in the waters of Setubal proved to be too hard for the two South American competitors.

Finally, the major upset of the day was the “internal” qualification for Great Britain. As host of the Games, one place was assured and David Davies was naturally the favourite to fill the berth. The silver medallist in Beijing was however not in shape and concluded in a modest 38th place. His compatriot Daniel Fogg finished in 35th and will be the British representative in Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park.

The complete list of 25 swimmers qualified for London 2012 Olympic Games is as follows (10 from Shanghai and 15 from Setubal):

  • Spyridon Gianniotis (GRE) - Shanghai
  • Thomas Lurz (GER) - Shanghai
  • Sergey Bolshakov (RUS) - Shanghai
  • Alex Meyer (USA) - Shanghai
  • Ky Hurst (AUS) - Shanghai
  • Francisco Jose Hervas (ESP) -
  • Shanghai Brian Ryckeman (BEL) – Shanghai
  • Julien Sauvage (FRA) – Shanghai
  • Vladimir Dyatchin (RUS) – Shanghai
  • Andreas Waschburger (GER) - Shanghai
  • Oussama Mellouli (TUN) - Setubal
  • Richard Weinberger (CAN) - Setubal
  • Petar Stoychev (BUL) - Setubal
  • Valerio Cleri (ITA) - Setubal
  • Troyden Prinsloo (RSA) - Setubal
  • Yasunari Hirai (JPN) - Setubal
  • Igor Chervynskiy (UKR) - Setubal
  • Ivan Enderica Ocho (ECU) - Setubal
  • Arseniy Lavrentyev (POR) - Setubal
  • Yuri Kudinov (KAZ) - Setubal
  • Erwin Maldonado (VEN) - Setubal
  • Csaba Gercsak (HUN) - Setubal
  • Kane Radford (NZL) - Setubal
  • Mazen Aziz (EGY) - Setubal
  • Daniell Fogg (GBR) - Setubal
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