Larisa Ilchenko and Thomas Lurz won the first gold medals of the
world swimming championships in Melbourne Sunday, adding to their
burgeoning personal collections in open water events.
Ilchenko pushed jellyfish and a few of her fellow competitors
aside to win her fourth consecutive 5-kilometer race. Swimming in
Port Phillip Bay after a start from the famous St Kilda pier,
Ilchenko and Ekaterina Seliverstova gave Russia a 1-2 finish.
"For me it just confirms that to hold on to a title is harder
than to get it in the first place," Ilchenko said.
Lurz won his third straight men's 5-km race, finishing in 56
minutes, 49.6 seconds, one second ahead of Evgeny Drattsev of
Russia. Spyridon Gianniotis of Greece took the bronze.
The 27-year-old German also won the 10-km race in Naples last
year and will be favored in Wednesday's race over that distance off
"I hope I can recover really fast," said Lurz. "I'm a little
older so I hope I can still win."
In the other medals decided yesterday, Russia remained the
dominant force in synchronized swimming, claiming another team
Russia won the free combination gold with a near-perfect score
of 99.000 points, easily beating runner-up Japan (97.833). The
United States rallied to win its first medal of the championships,
finishing third at 96.500.
The Americans leapfrogged Spain, which was third entering the
final but dropped a spot when a disappointing routine earned a
score of 96.334.
Kate Brookes-Peterson of Australia won a disputed bronze in the
women's open water race. The fourth-place finisher, Britta
Kamrau-Corestein of Germany, claimed she was pulled from behind by
the Australian in the final 100 meters.
"Yesterday, everyone was so kind and friendly - everyone was
wishing each other good luck," Ilchenko said. "Today all the smiles
were wiped off. It was a fight from the first moments of the
Ilchenko, who also won the 10-km race in Naples last year,
finished in 1 hour, 41.3 seconds, with Seliverstova 2.3 seconds
behind and Brookes-Peterson 6.3 seconds behind the winner.
Although world swim championships are held every two years, the
open water races are held annually. Ilchenko won in Naples, Italy,
last year, in Montreal in 2005 and in Dubai in 2004.
Diving competition begins today at the Melbourne Sports and
Aquatic Center with the men's 3-meter synchronized event and the
women's 10-meter synchro. China has the defending champions in both
events - He Chong and Wang Feng in the men's and Jia Tong and Yuan
Peilin in the women's platform.
Wang is back with a new partner in the men's event - Qin Kal -
and Jia will also be joined by a new partner, Chen Ruolin.
(Shanghai Daily March 19, 2007)