German swimmer wins gold at World Championships

22nd July 2009, Comments 0 comments

Thomas Lurz, who won the men's 5 km Open Water competition Tuesday, is the most successful swimmer of all time in Open Water events.

Rome -- German Thomas Lurz won the men's 5 km Open Water competition at the World Championships here on Tuesday for the fifth time in a row.

The Olympic bronze medallist at 10km continued the domination he has exerted over this event since 2005 in Montreal by edging Greek Spyridon Gianniotis into second in a time of 56mins 27.2sec.

Chad Ho of South Africa denied hosts Italy a medal as he took bronze ahead of Luca Ferretti.

"It's always hard to be the favourite. The Russian girl (Larisa Ilchenko, who finished second in the women's event) also had won a lot of gold medals but this is a world championship, anything can happen and I'm very happy to clinch another gold medal," said Lurz.

"Over the past few years I've gained a lot of experience and this helps me keep my determination and will to win."

Lurz is the most successful swimmer of all time in Open Water events, having also won the 10km competition twice.

He now has seven gold medals, two silvers and two bronzes.

However in the 10km event at the Games in Beijing -- the only Open Water competition in the Olympic programme -- he was stunned by Maarten Van der Weijden and finished third.

Lurz and Gianniotis pulled clear of a big group of leaders and in the final kilometre it was the German who had edged in front.

Gianniotis put in a burst to draw level with the champion but each time he seemed to be pulling back ground, Lurz kicked on and re-opened up a gap while also seemingly trying to swim across his opponent's path to block him from trying to overtake.

The Greek swimmer admitted afterwards that he never thought he'd be battling with Lurz for the gold medal.

"I didn't expect this result because I didn't think I was in very good physical shape. After the Beijing Olympics I'd stopped competing, so it's a surprise," said Gianniotis.

"I don't know if I'll compete tomorrow in the 10km because I don't feel in good shape."

Ho was another who hadn't set his sights on a podium finish.

"I didn't expect this result at all. I just hoped to be in the top 10 so I'm very happy," he said.

While the battle was raging at the front, there was a different kind of competition developing at the back.

Aruban pair Orel Jeffrey and Kareem Valentine were merely trying to finish inside the official time limit.

Disappointingly for both, having spent about an hour and a half battling against the elements, they emerged from the water (Valentine was last) to discover they wouldn't even have their time record as they had missed the cut.

Barnaby Chesterman/AFP/Expatica

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