British swimmer Keri-anne Payne defended her World Championship title earned two years ago in Rome with a commanding, gold-medal winning performance in the Women’s 10km open water event in Shanghai.
Payne took to the top step of another FINA World Championships podium after leading from the front throughout a 10km course baked by temperatures of well above 30C and water temperatures of 29C.
Despite the punishing conditions the British Gas GBR swimmer remained composed and in charge throughout, and even fended off a late charge by showing a strong and determined kick. Payne touched in 2.01:58.1 with Italy’s 2010 FINA Open Water 10km World Champion Martina Grimaldi taking the silver in 2.01:59.9 and Marianna Lymperta of Greece took the bronze in 2.02:01.8.
An energetic and delighted Payne celebrated her second world title with her British Gas ITC coach Sean Kelly.
“I’m really please with that,” said Payne. “Last year wasn’t the best for me so this is a massive positive and I’ve also just found out my sister (Janine) is in labour back in the UK so hopefully it will be a good day all round. The conditions were pretty perfect. Maybe it was a little too sunny as it was hot out there and I think I’m going to have outlines of the number ‘26’ on my back where my race numbers were. I just tried to make it as easy as I could because I knew that if someone did attack I would have enough in my legs to defend and kick-on.”
Payne’s top 10 finish sees her meet the first stage of the British Swimming selection policy for the 2012 Olympic Games and qualify herself for London on the condition that she maintains fitness.
“I’m so happy to have made the top 10 and to achieve qualification for the home Olympics, It’s an amazing feeling. There is a massive sense of relief because now I can just concentrate on training to make sure I’m at my absolute peak in London. I have events to swim in the pool schedule next week and then I’ll return home and get straight back into the water and concentrate on my preparation for 2012.”
“It’s hasn’t sunk in yet that I have qualified or that I have won. I’m waiting to hear from my sister who is pregnant with her first child. I’ll be in touch with her as soon as I get out of doping control. Then I am looking forward to a swim down and a good nights sleep,” said Payne.
Payne admitted “leading the race is my usual tactic and I wanted to be out front from the start. I don’t like it when we fight in the pack. When I am leading I have a pretty good idea where everyone is and I know that they must pass me if they want to lead.”
Her coach Sean Kelly said Payne will not swim in the 13 August 2011 Olympic 10km test event to be held in the Serpentine in Hyde Park as she will be on holiday until 22 August when it’s time to get back into the water. “She will be racing in the 1500m next week but it will all depend on how quickly she recovers. The 10km takes a lot out of her but we will know more after I give her a test set. Hopefully she will be ready for the pool.”
British Gas ITC Stockport team mate Cassandra Patten finished in a disappointing 21st place in 2.02:33.01.
“I gave it my best on the day,” said Patten. “I can’t ask for anything more than that.”
Due to the FINA qualification system, there will not be a second British female athlete in the 2012 Olympic 10km event.
The 10 women qualified in Shanghai for the second ever Olympic 10km race to be held in the Serpentine Course in Hyde Park in August 2012 include: 4th place: Melissa Gorman, (AUS); 5th: Cecilia Biagioli (ARG); 6th: Poliana Okimoto (BRA); 7th: Jana Pechanova (CZE); 8th: Angela Maurer (GER); 9th: Swann Oberson (SUI) and 10th: Ericka Villaecija Garcia (ESP).
25 women will race in the Olympic 10km in London. The remaining 15 athletes must qualify at the Olympic Marathon qualifying event to be held next June in Setubal, Portugal.
Click to view results.