Overcast

Winnipeg, MB

-5°c Overcast

Full Forecast

Olympics

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Fast, smart and brave

Canuck swims to open-water bronze in 10-K marathon event

Posted: 08/11/2012 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

Advertisement

  • Print

LONDON -- Richard Weinberger compensated for his lack of "old-man strength" in the Olympic marathon swim with a fast, smart and well-executed strategy.

Weinberger, the youngest man in Friday's 10-kilometre open-water race, kept pace with the veterans and held off the reigning world champion to win a bronze medal. It was Canada's third swimming medal of the London Games.

The 22-year-old from Victoria is the first Canadian to win an Olympic marathon swim medal. Open-water swimming made its Olympic debut four years ago in Beijing, but Canada didn't qualify a swimmer then.

"Training is hard and this is like Christmas morning," Weinberger said. "I just love racing."

Oussama Mellouli -- the man Canada's Ryan Cochrane held off for silver in the pool in the 1,500 metres -- claimed gold in a time of one hour 49 minutes 55.1 seconds. Weinberger was 5.2 seconds behind the 28-year-old Tunisian.

Mellouli is the first swimmer to win a medal in the pool and in open water at the same Olympics.

Thomas Lurz of Germany and Spyridon Gianniotis of Greece dominated the marathon in recent years. With leader Mellouli pulling away on the last of six laps in Hyde Park's Serpentine, it was a three-man race for silver and bronze between Weinberger, Lurz and Gianniotis.

"At that point it was 'All right, time to get a medal,"' Weinberger said.

Weinberger shook off reigning world champion Gianniotis over the final 300 metres and stayed on the heels of Lurz into the finish area.

Lurz, the bronze medallist in 2008, and Gianniotis are both a decade older than Weinberger. This sport favours race experience and mature engines. Weinberger has neither.

"I'm still working and gaining speed and endurance (to) get my 'old-man strength"' Weinberger said. "That's what I call it."

He and coach Ron Jacks planned for Weinberger to take the pace out quickly. They achieved both as Weinberger stayed away from the flailing arms and legs in the pack, as well as diminished the closing power of Lurz and Gianniotis.

Mellouli, also winner of Olympic gold in the 1,500 in Beijing, was an unknown quantity in open-water swimming. He'd added the marathon to his pool distances just recently.

Weinberger led the pack for two laps and remained among the leaders throughout the race. When Mellouli dropped the hammer on the final lap, Weinberger, Lurz and Gianniotis gave chase and separated themselves from the rest of the field.

The Canadian raced fast, smart and brave to claim a spot on the podium.

"For the most part, what Ron and I came up with is what we planned for," Weinberger said. "Instead of having a race between 25 people, we made the race between four people and just tried to push the pace there and separate things..."

Weinberger was easily identifiable in the water because he was the only racer in the Serpentine without a cap. He pulled it off early to stay cool in water that was around 21 C.

He'd also removed his cap at a World Cup Olympic qualifier in Portugal a few weeks earlier, only to have to his goggles dislodge. While fiddling with them, Weinberger was mowed over by other swimmers and raced from 49th to second.

"I was smarter this time," he said. "I learned from my mistakes and ripped it off from the front, so my goggles didn't come off."

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 11, 2012 C3

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.