OPEN WATER – XIN XIN (CHN) WINS BATTLE FOR OLYMPIC BERTH
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Greg Eggert, FINA Media Committee Honorary Secretary
China’s Xin Xin was the first female to finish the women’s 10km open water swimming event and also the first of the 64 competitors in today’s event to qualify for Olympic Marathon 10km event at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. The 22 year-old Chinese swimmer won in a time of 1h54m47s2, just .9 of a second ahead of silver medallist Haley Anderson from the USA. This was the first open water gold, let alone medal (men and women included), for China in the history of the FINA World Championships.
Finishing in third place was Rachele Bruni of Italy who won her first ever World Championship medal. Although she holds the Olympic silver medal from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, today she won her first FINA award.
Bruni’s bronze medal in today’s event was at the expense of Lara Grangeon of France who was leading today’s race at several points. Grangeon finished one tenth of a second behind the Italian bronze medallist and was off the medals podium in Yeosu but has qualified for the next Olympics.
Xin Xin was born in Shandong and competed for China at the 2012 London and also at 2016 Rio Olympic Games. She finished fourth place in the 2016 Olympic Marathon 10km event contested on Copacabana Beach in Brazil.
Anderson will be competing at her third Olympic Games. She won the silver medal in the Olympic Marathon in London in 2012 at her first Olympics. The Olympic Marathon is the only swimming event that the USA has not won a gold medal in.
These three athletes were the first of 10 open water swimmers to punch their tickets to the 2020 Olympic Games. The top ten finishers in today’s women’s races at the FINA World Championships have qualified for next summer’s Olympics.
The 10th and final swimmer to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics was the 2016 Olympic Champion Sharon Rouwendaal of the Netherlands. The 2015 and 2017 world champion Aurelie Muller, from France, finished in the 11th position, thus missing the Games’ qualification. The open-water Olympic Marathon 10km debuted at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
Today’s 10km race was the first qualifying event for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Swim Marathon. It was also the second of seven events contested over six days of racing at the Yeosu EXPO Ocean Park Open Water Swimming Competition venue.
The race conditions were warm, sunny and pleasant, a stark contrast to the cool and rainy weather yesterday. The water temperature was measured two hours before the race, 23.1°C. Sixty-four athletes started the race and all of the swimmers finished, only two yellow cards were issued. One protest was received from the French federation but it was rejected.
Xin Xin (CHN), gold
“I am really excited for my first place today. My goal before this competition was to qualify for the Olympics. I believe that I can race better and better in the future. My strategy today was to relax and save energy in the first half, and to keep ‘clear in the mind’ and also to keep the confidence in myself.”
Haley Anderson (USA), silver
“I am really happy with how I raced and I am excited to qualify for another Olympic Games. I can’t believe I qualified for my third Olympics. To get my hand on the touch pads in second is really awesome. I finally won a medal in the 10km at the world championships. I really learned a lot during the past two quads.”
“It was pretty stressful and brutal in the race today. It was a little cut throat out there because everyone was trying to finish in the top ten. I was trying to stay calm and confident. Coming down the last stretch was a pretty big pack and I tried to keep the best line possible to the finish and I found clear water. I wanted to avoid fighting with anyone as that isn’t good for either swimmer. I made up some ground on the leaders. It was always my goal to be on the podium here, it wasn’t just about finishing in the top 10 today. I am really excited about how I finished, not just where I finished. This is a great ‘set up’ for me for the Olympics next summer. I want to earn another medal for the USA at next summer’s Olympics. I still have plenty of racing ahead of me this summer. I will be competing in the 400m, 800m and the 1500m freestyle events in Lima, Peru at the Pan American Games next month.”
“This is my first time in Korea and everyone has been so nice and friendly.”
Rachele Bruni (ITA), bronze
“I was following my coach’s advise to take charge of a comfortable pace in the first half so that I would have the energy at the finish. I was able to remain calm and quiet for most of the race. This was my first medal in the world championships. I tried so hard in the final moments of the race because there were 10 or 15 swimmers arriving at the touch pad at same time. I don’t know what happened to the French athlete who was swimming next to me but I was sure that I arrived ahead of her. For me today’s results are very important as I qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. My target is always to win a gold medal and that is the goal for Tokyo.”
FINA 10km MEDALISTS & OLYMPIC QUALIFIERS:
GOLD – Xin Xin, CHN – 1h54m47s2
SILVER – Haley Anderson, USA — +.9
BRONZE – Rachele Bruni, ITA — +2.7
4th – Lara Grangeon, FRA — +2.8
5th – Ana Marcela Cunha, BRA — +3.3
6th – Ashley Twichell, USA — +3.3
7th – Karena Lee, AUS — +3.3
8th – Finnia Wunram, GER — +3.5
9th – Leonie Beck, GER — + +3.8
10th – Sharon Van Rouwendaal, NED — +3.9
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