If you thought yesterday’s women’s 10km race was dramatic, with Van Rouwendaal’s early break and Muller’s disqualification, today’s men’s race showcased the brutal tactics of open water swimming in a race that gripped from the very start. Australia’s Jarrod Poort led from the gun with an unprecedented sprint start that he managed to stretch to a lead of over 1 minute as he left the rest of the field behind. But Poort’s brave tactics caught up with him in the end as the chasing pack finally bore down on him to overtake him 1 hour 38 minutes into the race. Ferry Weertman of the Netherlands was the first swimmer to overtake Poort in a chasing pack consisting of Weertman, Jordan Wilimovsky, Oussama Mellouli, Jack Burnell, Marc-Antoine Olivier and Spyridon Gianniotis.
The final 750m was a scrap for the finish line, with the lead being swapped between Burnell, Wilimovsky and Mellouli. A strong break by Gianniotis was closed by the rest of the pack leading to a photo finish and uncertainty over the final result. Initially unofficial first place was given to Gianniotis, second to Weertman and third to Burnell, but after examination of the photo finish the final results were called as gold to Weertman (Netherlands) in 1.52.59, silver to Gianniotis (Greece) and bronze to Olivier (France).
Great Britain’s Jack Burnell was disqualified in the final minutes of the race. In an interview with BBC Sport a clearly angry Burnell protested against the judges’ decision: “The whole thing was an absolute joke. In the end, apparently I was disqualified about two metres from the finish.”
As in football, two yellow cards mean disqualification. Cards are given for unnecessary physical contact. “The first yellow card I got… I couldn’t have physically touched anybody either side of me,” said Burnell. “This is meant to be the pinnacle of the sport and you’ve got referees out there who haven’t a clue what they are doing.”