Ho and Anderson take gold in 5km at Kazan.
The open water action at the FINA World Championships in Kazan started on Saturday with the 5km events. First up was the women’s race, which was won by American Haley Anderson, silver medallist in the 10km marathon swim at the 2012 Olympic Games. She finished in 58:48.4. The race was led by Sharon Van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands before Anderson sprinted away from the lead pack in the final 300 metres of the race to claim victory.
“The conditions were great today and I am really happy with my finish,” said Anderson. “I really just wanted to get on this course as a tune up for the 10km. I am confident that I am prepared for the 10km race next week. This victory means a lot. I take this process of qualification for the 2016 Olympics only one step at a time. Today’s race is a stepping stone to the 10km where I hope to qualify for Rio”.
Silver went to Kalliopi Araouzou of Greece and bronze to Finnia Wunram of Germany. Great Britain’s 18-year old Alice Dearing finished 23rd.
In the men’s event, South African Chad Ho narrowly defeated Rob Mutffels of Germany in a sprint finish over the last 10 metres to the touchpad. Ho touched in at 55:17.6. Matteo Furlan of Italy took bronze.
“I’m over the moon, I honestly couldn’t believe the result,”said Ho. “Today’s race was brutal, the wind was something else, and I had to fight the wind just to get a nice line. It was a perfect start to my World Championships. I know that I had done the work and it paid off in the end. Going into the last 400 metres I told myself ‘you can do this’ and I repeated this a few times as I sprinted for the finish line. As I entered the final sprint I wanted to be close to the left lane rope so that I could breathe to the right. I saw Rob and Matteo and thought ‘On no!” but I found my legs and my second wind. That’s what open water swimming is all about, the very close finishes like today!”
Great Britain’s Caleb Hughes led the field for much of the race, before missing out in the sprint finish. The 19-year old finished seventh, just 4.3 seconds behind Ho.
“It was a good experience,” Hughes said. “I did want more after leading for much of the race and I did think it I might have snuck a medal. The course was pretty straightforward for me.
“It is good to get a top ten finish because it put my name out there and shows I can do it.”