Expect the unexpected is the mantra of open water swimming and it was never more true than today.
Eva Risztov of Hungary took control of the womens’s Olympic marathon swimming 10km during the second half and powered on to a surprising gold medal.
Risztov held off Haley Anderson of the USA when Anderson made a sprint for gold at the very end. As the women entered in the finish chute, they were nearly shoulder-to-shoulder. Anderson made a slight veer towards Risztov while Risztov kept on swimming straight as Risztov took a beeline to the finish and was able to out-touch the fast-charging USC senior from California by 4 tenths of a second. “I decided to make it a very clean race,” Risztov said through an interpreter. “If I am leading, they can’t say I did anything. This was my tactic.”
It was a tactic used for the past 5 years by pre-race favorite Keri-Anne Payne. Surprisingly, Payne was not really in the medal mix as she changed her traditional strategy of leading from the front to drafting behind. “I got hit quite a few times in the face,” recalled Payne to the BBC. “We were all swimming in such close proximity. It seemed like a pretty violent race from the start.”
There were 5 yellow cards given and constant whistles blown by the referees.
Under those fast, physical conditions, Payne never quite took control of the race as the two-time world champion normally does. Instead, control was left in the hands of the three-time Hungarian Olympian who retired in 2005 only to make a comeback in open water swimming in 2009.
And what a comeback that was.
GOLD Eva Risztov (HUN) 1:57:38.2
SILVER Haley Anderson (USA) 1:57:38.6
BRONZE Martina Grimaldi (ITA) 1:57:41.8
4. Keri-Anne Payne (GBR) 1:57:42.2
5. Angela Maurer (GER) 1:57:52.8
6. Ophelie Aspord (FRA) 1:58:43.1
7. Olga Beresnyeva (UKR) 1:58:44.4
8. Erika Villaecija (ESP) 1:58:49.5
9. Jana Pechanova (CZE) 1:58:52.8
10. Anna Guseva (RUS) 1:58:53.0
11. Melissa Gorman (AUS) 1:58:53.1
12. Karla Sitic (CRO) 1:58:54.7
13. Yumi Kida (JPN) 1:58:59.1
14. Yanel Pinto (VEN) 1:59:05.8
15. Natalia Charlos (POL) 1:59:05.8
16. Heidi Gan (MAS) 2:00:45.0
17. Cecilia Biagioli (ARG) 2:01:02.2
18. Zsofia Balazs (CAN) 2:01:17.8
19. Swann Oberson (SUI) 2:01:38.0
20. Wing Yung Natasha Terri Tang (HKG) 2:02:33.4
21. Lizeth Rueda Santos (MEX) 2:02:46.1
22. Marianna Lymperta (GRE) 2:04:26.5
Poliana Okimoto (BRA) DNF
Jessica Roux (RSA) DNF
Yanqiao Fang (CHN) DNS
Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association