Auriele Muller of France has taken gold in the women’s 10km at the FINA World Championships in Kazan, joining teammate Marc-Antoine Oliver, who came sixth in the men’s race, in securing an Olympic berth at Rio.
The top ten finishers in the men’s and women’s 10km events automatically qualify for the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.
Muller led the race from the second of four laps, finishing just ahead of her trianing partner Sharon Van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands in 1:58.04. Van Rouwendaal touched in 1:58.06 to claim silver.
“I am very happy with the gold medal and I am also happy for Sharon and Ana Marcela. It was a crazy race today. I took the lead so I would not encounter any fighting,” said Muller. “This is my first world championships but it is very well organised. Sharon and I train together but I never beat her in training. Sharon also swims events in the pool but I don’t, just open water races.
“The race today was very easy in the first 5km. I was leading at the 7.5km point and it was still easy for me. So I left the group and said to myself, ‘I am trying something and see where it goes!’”
Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil took the bronze medal in 1:58.26.5. Van Rouwendaal joins her teammate Ferry Wertman and Cunha joins fellow Brazilian Alan do Carmo in qualifying for Rio, along with teammate Poliana Okimoto Cintra who finished in sixth place.
Great Britain’s Keri-anne Payne and Danielle Huskisson came 15th and 35th respectively. A further opportunity to qualify for the Olympics will take place in Portugal next year.
Brazil, Italy and the US have now qualified three swimmers each for the open water 10km in Rio. Simone Ruffini and Federico Vanelli join Rachele Bruni while Haley Anderson, winner of the 5km and ninth in the 10km, will join teammates Jordan Wilimovsky and Sean Ryan. France, the Netherlands and Greece will field two swimmers with the remaining spots going to Great Britain’s Jack Burnell, Canada’s Richard Weinberger, Russia’s Anastasiia Krapivina, Germany’s Isabelle Franziska Harle and Hungary’s Eva Risztov.
The top ten Olympic qualifiers in the women’s 10km:
1. 1:58.04.3 Aurelie Muller, FRA
2. 1:58.06.7 Sharon Van Rouwendaal, NED
3. 1:58.26.5 Ana Marcela Cunha, BRA
4. 1:58.27.9 Rachele Bruni, ITA
5. 1:58.28.6 Anastasiia Krapivina, RUS
6. 1:58.28.8 Poliana Okimoto Cintra, BRA
7. 1:58.30.0 Isabelle Franziska Harle, GER
8. 1:58.30.6 Kalliopi Araouzou, GRE
9. 1:58.35.9 Haley Anderson, USA
10. 1:58.36.4 Eva Risztov, HUN