Ana Marcela Cunha and Florian Wellbrock win 10k Marathon Swim Gold at Tokyo

The men’s open water 10k race on Wednesday was dominated by one swimmer, world champion Florian Wellbrock. The German swimmer led from the very start, making an early break in the first minutes of the race. Only two swimmers were able to keep with him for the majority of the race, Rio bronze medalist Marc-Antoine Olivier of France and Hungary’s Kristof Rasovszky. After the second feed, the chase pack was led by Gregorio Paltrinieri of Italy in what became a thrilling battle for silver and bronze as the Italian tried to close the gap between the lead three swimmers. After the fourth feed Paltrinieri had closed that gap to eight seconds, but Wellbrock was still going strong and, in a masterclass of tactics, started to up the pace.

In the 30-degree water hydration was key, and tactics at the feed station became fascinating viewing. Wellbrock fed on every lap but other swimmers chose not to feed to try and gain on him; in particular, Olivier missed feeds, potentially leaving him depleted for the final stages of the race.

With 2k to go Paltrinieri had caught the lead pack but Wellbrock continued to push the pace, his smooth and relaxed stroke a contrast to the more scrappy strokes of his rivals. As the swimmers came into the final turn of the last lap there was no hope of Wellbrock being caught and it became a battle for the remaining medals. Wellbrock finished in 1:48.33.7, an incredible 25 seconds ahead of Rasovszky who claimed silver. Paltrinieri, who had managed to break away from the chasing pack to close that gap, took bronze. Team GB’s Hector Pardoe unfortunately did not finish after being elbowed in the face.

Full results:…

On Tuesday, Brazilian open water star Ana Marcela Cunha finally claimed an Olympic medal, taking gold in the women’s 10k marathon swim. Cunha can now add the Olympic gold to her collection of medals after a thrilling race in which she was always in contention, trading places in the lead pack from the very start of the race. Defending champion Sharon van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands took silver, Australian Kareena Lee completed the podium to claim bronze.

An early lead by Leonie Beck of Germany was then taken by Ashley Twichell of the United States, who led the pack for much of the race. Throughout, Cunha was in the lead pack, never falling below fifth place. As the seven-lap race reached its final lap the pack strung out, with van Rouwendaal having moved up position during the race to defend her title. Likewise, world champion Xin Xin of China held back for much of the race only to join the front of the pack in the final stages of the race. Twichell’s teammate Haley Anderson was also in contention, but it was Cunha who made a break in the final kilometre to overtake van Rouwendaal. Leading the pack, Cunha made two good final turns to come into the last 500m strait a couple of metres ahead of the rest of the swimmers and was able to hold her lead as they sprinted to the finish funnel. Cunha finished in 1:59:30.8. Team GB’s Alice Dearing, after a steady race in which she kept with the lead pack for much of the race, finished in 19th place.

Full results:…

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