Canadas Richard Weinberger wins bronze medal in 10 km marathon at Olympics

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Richard Weinberger of Victoria firmly established himself among the world’s best in the men’s 10 kilometre marathon swimming race on Friday winning the bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics Games. Photo: Ian McNicol/Swimming Canada

LONDON – Richard Weinberger of Victoria firmly established himself among the world’s best in the men’s 10 kilometre marathon swimming race on Friday winning the bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics Games.

It is Canada’s first ever Olympic medal in marathon swimming which was added to the Games program in 2008.

Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia earned his second medal of the Games placing first in one hour and 49 minutes and 55.1 seconds. Thomas Lurz of Germany won a hard fought battle for the silver clocking 1:49:58.5 while Weinberger followed at 1:50:00.3. There were 25 entries.

“It was an extremely physical race,” said Weinberger, who is coached by Canada’s distance freestyle coaching guru Ron Jacks. “That’s why I avoided being in the pack and tried to be on the outside or up there with Mellouli. I wanted to have a smart race and things turned out in my favour.”

Weinberger, 22, was first after the first and second laps on Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park, fourth after the third, second after fourth and third after the fifth.

“I was laughing to myself finishing those early laps first because most of the way I was usually second and third,” he said. “But everybody likes to be first and it’s fun to see your name come up first on the splits.”

Just two weeks ago, Weinberger won the gold medal at FINA World Cup 10 kilometre race on Lac-St-Jean in Quebec. This past June at the Olympic qualifier he made a great comeback to nab a silver medal. Last year, at the Olympic test event here, he won the gold medal.

Mellouli, the bronze medallist last Saturday in the 1,500 freestyle, broke clear at the start of the last lap and clung on in the final stages to hold off Lurz and Weinberger.

“When Mellouli went out I knew it was going to be hard to catch one of the top milers in the world,” said Weinberger. “I kept my cool and concentrated and told myself it was time to get a medal. I just moved things along.”

The Canadian swimming team ends the Olympic Games with three medals. Along with Weinberger, Ryan Cochrane of Victoria took silver in the 1,500 freestyle and Brent Hayden of Mission, B.C., bronze in the 100 freestyle.

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