SANTOS, Brazil (January 29, 2012) – Richard Weinberger of Victoria took another big step towards earning a berth on the Olympic team on Sunday winning the bronze medal in the men’s 10 kilometre race at a marathon swimming World Cup.
World champion Spiros Gianniotis of Greece won the gold medal in two hours and 11 minutes and 39.51 seconds. Nicola Bolzonello of Italy was second in 2:11:41.44 and Weinberger followed closely in 2:11:42.34.
Seven Olympic qualifiers from last year’s world championships were in the race and Weinberger finished ahead of six of them.
”I’m very excited about this performance,” said Weinberger, 21. ”It gives me a lot of confidence and it proves my strong results last year were no fluke.”
Weinberger emerged on the international scene last year as a serious medal threat for the London Games highlighted by a victory on the Olympic course at a test event in the British capital.
”To be racing side by side and keeping pace with a guy like Spiros was exhilarating,” he said. ”There is still a long journey ahead but with continued serious training and hard work I feel that one day I can surpass him.”
Sunday’s race was held in warm and choppy waters totally opposite conditions to those he’ll likely face in London
”The conditions were not in my favour today but still it is important for me to race in those kinds of situations,” Weinberger said. ”In London the waters will be cold and flat and that’ll be perfect for me.”
Xavier Desharnais of Sherbrooke, Que., was 16th and Aimeson King of Victoria 31st.
In the women’s 10 kilometre race, Martina Grimaldi of Italy won the gold medal in 2:22:33.94. Zsofia Balazs of Toronto was the top Canadian placing 14th in 2:23:40.94. Nadine Williams of Sherwood Park, Alta., was 21st, Tyra Rooney of Calgary 25th while Caitlin Nolan, of LaSalle, Que., did not finish.
”It was one of my better races,” said Balazs. ”I was happy with how I stayed calm and showed no anxiety when I would fall behind.”
The top-placing Canadian swimmer at either today’s race or the World Cup next Saturday in Argentina will be selected to attend the Olympic Marathon Qualifier in Portugal next June with hopes of grabbing one of the remaining Olympic spots.
Swimming Canada, the governing body for competitive swimming in Canada, will be selecting a team of 4 athletes (2 male, 2 female), to race under the maple leaf banner at the Olympic Marathon Qualifier.
The second qualifier will then be the next top-placing swimmer from either FINA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cups in Brazil, Argentina or Mexico on April 21st.