Grimaldi wins 10km FINA Open Water World Championships 2010

Saturday 17 July 2010 – Lac-St-Jean, Roberval

The women’s 10km event started with bright sunshine and a gentle breeze on the placid surface on Lac-St-Jean, defying the forecast of rain and thunderstorms. The 38 athletes included Olympic Champion Larissa Ilchenko (RUS) and FINA World Champion Keri-Anne PAYNE (GB) and 13 who competed at the Beijing Olympic Games2008.

A brief rainshower greeted the athletes as they completed their first of four 2.5K loops on the course. One athlete, Canadian Zsofia Balazs was pulled from the water before completing her first loop. Balazs was kicked by another athlete at the start and hyperventilated as she tried to keep up with the pack. Race officials reported that contact between the athletes jockeying for position was “physically rough but not vicious”.

At 2.5km Payne led in 31:07, about one second ahead of Eva Fabian (USA) and Italian swimmer Martina Grimaldi in third.

By halfway the skies had cleared with Payne and Fabian appearing determined not to let the other pull even slightly ahead or to allow a different competitor to join them.

At 5km mark Payne held only a slight lead over Fabian from Ekaterina Seliverstova (RUS), all sharing an identical split time of 1:02.35. Six athletes had received yellow cards warning them about too much physical contact with their competitiors. One additional swimmer had abandonded the race by the half way point.

2009 FINA World Championships 5km gold medallist Melissa Gorman (AUS) led the pack at 7.5km point in 1:33.59 with Fabian one second behind and just barely ahead of Payne and Grimaldi, in 3rd and 4th position respectively.

Thirty-three athletes passed through the 7.5km mark. Of the five who were out of the race, one athlete was disqualified for missing a bouy. Larisa Ilchenko was taken out of the water due to hypothermia.

The final loop of the race was physically demanding for the athletes who were each drawing on their reserve power. As a final sprint is always expected by those expecting to capture a medal, the strategy of the potential champion is to make their move at the perfect and opportune time in an effort to put some distance from her competitors. At 500 metres from the finish, Martina Grimaldi of Italy was prepared to give what it would take for her to touch the pad first. “I needed an all out sprint to break away from the pack. I did not know where my energy was coming from, but I knew that I was capable of moving ahead and of finishing first” said the 22 year old champion of the 2010 FINA 10K event. The 10K winner added: “After my third place finish in Rome last year I decided that I wanted to make a great race in future 10K events. I wanted to do better than my performance from last summer’s World Championships”. Grimaldi is coached by Fabio Cuzzani and they train in Bologna, Italy.

The race for second was extremely hard fought with three swimmers all targeting the left side of the touchpad instead of spreading out to avoid contact with each other. Melissa Gorman (AUS), Georgia Consiglio (ITA) and Airelie Muller (FRA) continued to steer left, each trying to “dig into” the same section of water as they sprinted towards the touchpad in a “photo finish”.

Just after Grimaldi’s finish in 2:05.45.20: “I turned around to see who touched next and I was really surprised to see my teammate Georgia Consiglio (ITA) among two other athletes trying to capture the silver medal. I cried when I saw her touch the pad. I was sure she earned a medal but I wasn’t sure which position.” While Grimaldi had completed over two dozen 10K races, the 20 year old Consiglio had never swum an event longer than a 5K. “I started swimming 5K events for training and the experience. Today my last lap was very hard and I am very pleased with my first 10K race.”

The challenge for the event officials and the referee was not simply determiniing the order of finish, but also involved reviewing the video of the finish to establish if there had been an infraction by one or more of the athletes during the crowded finish. An infraction by the French athlete Muller was observed and later announced as “unsporting conduct” towards Australian Melissa Gorman. According to FINA Open Water Swimming (OWS) Rule 6.3.2 the French swimmer was disqualified by the referee. The French federation protested their athlete’s disqualification and a Jury of Appeal was convened, composed of the members of the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee and their FINA Bureau Liaison, Dennis Miller. During the review of the video of the finish of the 10K race the disqualification of the French swimmer was confirmed and the French federation’s protest was denied.

During the review of the finish by the Jury of Appeal it was determined that Melissa Gorman (AUS) had responded in an “unsportsmanlike manner” and was similarly disqualified from the race, applying OWS Rule 6.3.2. According to Dennis Miller, “the finish of the race was extremely tight. Unfortunately we do not have the benefit of the same technology that is used for pool swimming. Our efforts to determine the correct order of finish and that the final results at the finish were fair, took a considerable period of time.”

The announcement of the official results took longer than the 2:05.45.20 time it took by the Italian Grimaldi to complete her 10K race. The thunderstorms and heavy rain predicted for Roberval did in fact return to the venue minutes after the finish of the 10K race and again immediately following the release of the official results. Due to the inclement weather the medals ceremony for the womens’ 10K was postponed to the following day

Third place went to Yanqiao Fang of CHINA in 2:05.59.0. Great Britian’s Keri-Anne Payne fell off her pace and placed 7th. USA’s Eva Fabian was disqualified for missing a buoy at the only right hand turn in each loop before the feeding station at approximately 9.3km.

Consiglio’s coach, Emanuelle Sacchi reported “This is a great result for Italy – it is the first time that two Italian women swimmers will be on the podium together.” At the Press Conference Coach Sacchi offered: “I am very proud of these swimmers. They do this all for glory and perhaps they will be rewarded with a little bit of money to support their training. They do not swim for money; in Italy it is not possible to swim for money.”

View video (9m 40s, flashplayer required) of Steven Munatones, Chief Editor, Daily News of Open Water and Chief Judge of the 10km race sharing his insights with Shelley Taylor Smith.

WOMEN (July 17)
1 GRIMALDI Martina (ITA) 2:05:45.2
2 CONSIGLIO Giorgia (ITA) 2:05:57.4
3 FANG Yanqiao (CHN) 2:05:59.1
4 MAURER Angela (GER) 2:05:59.2
5 CUNHA Ana Marcela (BRA) 2:05:59.7
6 JENNING Christine (USA) 2:06:01.1
7 PAYNE Keri-Anne (GBR) 2:06:01.4
8 VILLAECIJA Erika (ESP) 2:06:01.5
9 HEISTER Linsy (NED) 2:06:04.6
10 ASPORD Ophelie (FRA) 2:06:04.8
11 GONZALEZ Alejandra (MEX) 2:06:07.0
12 REQUENA Yurema (ESP) 2:06:25.8
13 PECHANOVA Jana (CZE) 2:06:28.5
14 PATTEN Cassandra (GBR) 2:06:39.5
15 SELIVERSTOVA Ekaterina (RUS) 2:06:44.2
16 BAKER Cara (NZL) 2:06:45.8
17 CARDENAS HERNANDEZ Zaira (MEX) 2:06:48.4
18 HANSFORD Stacey (AUS) 2:07:39.7
19 SITIC Karla (CRO) 2:08:33.2
20 YAN Siyu (CHN) 2:08:33.2
21 BARROS ESQUIVEL Katia (ECU) 2:08:38.2
22 REICHERT Nadine (GER) 2:08:40.1
23 BERESNYEVA Olga (UKR) 2:08:44.8
24 CALDAS CALLE Nataly (ECU) 2:08:48.8
25 DU TOIT Natalie (RSA) 2:09:00.1
26 ZHIDKOVA Anastasia (AZE) 2:09:01.0
27 WILLIAMS Nadine (CAN) 2:10:05.8
28 KOTSUR Inha (AZE) 2:12:16.8

The FINA Open Water World Championship continues with the Men’s and Women’s 5km events on Tuesday, 20 July 2010 and the 25km events on Thursday, 22 July 2010.

[extract from FINA]

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