TOKYO, Japan (Reuters) -“Unbeatable” Florian Wellbrock powered to gold in the men’s 10km marathon swimming competition at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday, the German setting the pace early on and holding his lead all the way to the finish.
Wellbrock, who claimed bronze in the men’s 1,500m freestyle swimming event, finished in a time of 1 hour, 48 minutes, 33.7 seconds, more than 25 seconds ahead of Hungary’s Kristof Rasovszky. Italian Gregorio Paltrinieri claimed bronze.
Wellbrock and Paltrinieri, who won silver in the 800 freestyle in Tokyo, join Oussama Mellouli as the only athletes to win a medal in swimming and marathon swimming at a single Olympics. Tunisian Mellouli was the first to do so at London 2012.
Wellbrock broke away early on at Tokyo’s Odaiba Marine Park and was in cruise control for the majority of the race.
“The first 7km was really easy for me,” said Wellbrock, though the heat started to catch up with him in the last lap, he added.
The water temperature was 29 Celsius (84.2 Fahrenheit) when the race started at 6:30 a.m. Conditions became tougher as the morning wore on as swimmers competed in sweltering heat.
Rasovszky, who said he had trained in tough conditions to prepare for the Games, conceded he had no chance of catching Wellbrock.
“Florian was unbeatable today,” he said. “I tried to be the best of the rest.”
He had to dig deep into his reserves just to fend off Paltrinieri, he added.
Wellbrock’s huge lead meant his team mates could be heard cheering and whistling well before he reached the finish line.
(Reporting by Sakura Murakami; Editing by Shri Navaratnam/Peter Rutherford)