SETUBAL, Portugal (ISN) – Richard Weinberger of Victoria overcame a rough start to win the silver medal on Sunday in the men’s 10 kilometre race at the FINA Olympic Marathon Swimming Qualifier on Saturday. With the result, he earns a first career Olympic team nomination.
Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia won the gold medal in one hour and 45 minutes and 18.5 seconds. Weinberger, 22, followed in 1:45:30.2 and Petar Stoychev of Bulgariawas third in 1:45:34.1
Within the first 200 metres, Weinberger ripped off a bothersome cap and accidently, at the same time, lost his goggles. He was forced to stop and put on his goggles back on which put him in last place early in the race.
Weinberger’s split times clearly indicate the incredible comeback he made. He was in order 49th, 23rd, 15th, eighth and fifth at the splits in the six-lap race.
‘’There are a lot of ups and downs in marathon swimming so we train for that,’’ said Weinberger. ‘’I knew I would just have to chip away and rely a lot on my training. My race plan didn’t really work out but I knew what I had to do to catch the field.’’
Weinberger has made a name for himself in the past year winning key marathon events.
He won the Olympic test event last summer at Hyde Park, and went on to winning the Pan American Games. During the World Cup season, Weinberger collected a silver inArgentina, and bronze in Brazil.
‘’To know I’m going to the Olympics is just unexplainable,’’ said Weinberger. ‘’I don,t think it has sunk in just yet.’’
Xavier Desharnais of Sherbrooke, Que., was 20th. ‘’It was a very difficult race,’’ he said. ‘’The dynamics were much different. I’m disappointed with the result but it was a valuable experience.’’
The top-nine finishers –with a limit of one per country – earned an Olympic nomination.
Canada has two marathon swimmign nominees for the Olympics. On Saturday, Zsofia Balazs of Toronto earned her spot with a sixth place finish in the women’s 10 kilometre.
Canada had no entries in 2008.
‘’This was a very successful four years for us in marathon swimming,’’ said Swimming Canada’s CEO and national coach Pierre Lafontaine. ‘’We worked very hard to improve the program and the athletes are gaining confidence.’’