Weinberger swims to marathon bronze
Aug 10, 2012 / 9:53 am
Paddling through the longest race of the London 2012 Olympic Games, Canada's Richard Weinberger captured bronze in London's Serpentine Lake on Friday morning. His 10-kilometre open water marathon swim of one hour, 50 minutes and 0.30 seconds earned Canada its third swimming medal of these Games.
Weinberger, of Victoria, B.C., got off to an early lead in London's chilly, 21-Celsius water on Friday; he tore off his swimming cap within his first few strokes and quickly worked his way to the front of the thrashing pack.
Open water swimming can get physical, as its lack of lanes allows the swimmers to draft through the water in a very tight pack; while race officials watch to ensure that things do not get out of hand, an errant elbow or foot occasionally connects.
Canada's entry dropped to fourth at the mid-point of Friday's race but stayed close to the leaders and conserved his energy for the remainder of the gruelling swim. Meanwhile, Tunisia's Oussama Mellouli jumped into the lead and surged ahead for gold.
With the win, he became the first swimmer to win an Olympic medal in the marathon as well as in the pool; the Tunisian also took bronze in the men's 1500m freestyle six days ago when he finished his race just 0.68 seconds behind silver medallist Ryan Cochrane, of Canada.
In the marathon event, Mellouli's 1:49.55.10 pace proved too much for his competitors to catch.
Behind him - just under one year after Weinberger won gold in the Olympic test event on the same course - the 22-year-old made his move in the final 3km of the race. He picked up his pace and advanced into a dead heat with Thomas Lurz for second place.
Weinberger, one of the youngest swimmers in Friday's race, has said he looks up to Germany's Lurz, 32.
"He has been under (one hour and) 15 minutes, and there are only a handful of people that have been under that mark," Weinberger told CTVOlympics.ca earlier this year."I have such great respect for him because he has won so many world championship titles. He is just a great swimmer all around."
Lurz is also the bronze-medal winner from the Beijing 2008 Games, and he proved his abilities again on Friday. He bettered his finish from four years ago to capture silver in 1:49:58.50, pushing through the pain in his final metres to complete his race 1.8 seconds ahead of Weinberger at the last.
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