KAZAN, Russia – Richard Weinberger (UBCD) got the job done at the FINA World Championships Monday in Kazan, Russia, finishing eighth in the men’s 10-km open water marathon.
The 2012 Olympic bronze medallist finished strong over the final kilometre to achieve his goal of a top 10 finish, thus earning him the right to be nominated to the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic team.
American Jordan Wilimovsky captured the gold medal with a time of 1:49:48.2, well ahead of a photo finish for second place. Ferry Weertman of the Netherlands (1:50:00.3) earned the silver, while defending world champion Spyridon Gianniotis – the oldest man in the field – took bronze in 1:50:00.7.
Weinberger’s time of 1:50:19.9 was good for eighth in the four-lap, 70-man race on a beautiful day in the Kazanka River. Eric Hedlin, 22, of the Swimming Canada High Performance Centre – Victoria came 56th at 1:56:52.3.
The 25-year-old Weinberger, who trains at the Swimming Canada High Performance Centre – Vancouver, was pleased he achieved the next step in attempting to repeat as an Olympic medallist.
“I’m pretty happy. All focus is on the Olympics now, I’m going for gold in Rio,” Weinberger said. “I just had to be careful and don’t show my cards all at once, focus, keep my cool and when the time was right – and I guess it was because I finished eighth – I put the hammer down.”
Weinberger was as far back as 34th at the halfway point and in 18th after three laps, but Open Water Lead Coach Mark Perry said he executed the race strategy to perfection.
“It kind of all figures itself out on the last lap. He was following the race plan exactly. If people were watching on the Internet and thinking ‘Oh my God we’re in 30th,’ it’s not a big issue. That was where we wanted him to be. The idea was to swim the race conserving energy and then you’ve got something left at the end. You see that the people who were leading for a long time didn’t make the top 10 and they’ve not qualified for the Olympics.”
Indeed, first-half front-runner Gergely Gyurta of Hungary found himself in 13th spot at the final touch.
“The goal when we came in here for Richard was to get in the top 10 and he swam a really smart race. The last week and a half when we’ve been training that’s the exact race plan we’ve worked on. He moved steadily through the pack, kept his cool and he took the right line off the last buoy. His open water skills are what got him in the top 10,” Perry said.
Swimming Canada High Performance Director John Atkinson praised Weinberger for his efforts. He also noted the coaching from Perry, High Performance Centre – Vancouver Coach Tom Johnson, and University of British Columbia Coach Steve Price, who served as a coach with the open water team through Pan Am Games and now at worlds.
“With Richard Weinberger there’s been a lot of work go into that by both Richard and his coaches at the High Performance Centre – Vancouver. With Tom Johnson it’s been a real team effort, with UBC coach Steve Price working with him and Mark Perry the open water lead coming in to work through Pan Am Games and staging in Sabadell (Spain) then here in Kazan. It’s great for him to get in the top 10, now it’s all about focusing for next year in Rio 2016,” Atkinson said.
The women’s 10-km will take place on the same course Tuesday beginning at 5 a.m. ET. Brandon, Man., native Samantha Harding and Jade Dusablon of Quebec City will be in action after finishing 18th and 22nd in the 5-km race Saturday. Both are competing in their first world championships.