Weertman retains title, shared gold for Bruni and Muller
Hoorn (LEN) – A gold medal for the local hero and defending champion Ferry Weertman (Netherlands) and a historical shared gold in the women’s event for Rachele Bruni (Italy) and Aurelia Muller (France) were the highlights of the two thrilling races on the opening day of the European Open Water Championships in Hoorn in the Netherlands.
At the last test prior the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro many of the qualified competitors took the chance for a last “warm-up” in the 10 km event over the Olympic distance, though the water was anything than warm, with 16-19 degrees it really prepared the athletes for the circumstances they should face in one month time.
In the women event Olympic champion Eva Risztov (HUN), the title-holder Sharon van Rouwendaal (NED) and world champion Aurelie Muller (FRA) set the pace from the beginning. Together with the 5 km title holder Isabelle Haerle (GER) and the Italian rookie Giulia Gabbrielleschi, this pack was leading in the first two of the four rounds in front of the historic city of Hoorn and tried to strike the way through the waves in rather windy conditions in the Markermeer.
At the final lap Rachele Bruni took the lead after she switched gears. “That was my tactic during the race”, she recalled. Still, when the field turned on the last 500 metres, local hero Sharon van Rouwendaal was in the leading position. But the Dutch missed the entrance of the finishing tunnel and had to return to the buoy and finally arrived fourth. (Eva Risztov and Isabelle Harle also missed the entrance and later were disqualified as they did not return to the buoy, just crossed the side-ropes of the tunnel instead.)
Rachele Bruni and Aurelie Muller touched the pad at the very same time and since not even the photo finish could separate them, both were awarded gold medals, for the first time ever in the event’s history. With Arianna Bridi coming third, the Squadra Azzurra enjoyed a good opening in the presence of their federation’s and LEN’s President Paolo Barelli.
The men’s event began under sunny skies and veteran Spyridon Giannotis, world champion in 2011 and 2013 rocketed in front and led till the half-way mark, then the others started to close on him.
“When we came close to the finish, there have been still six or seven competitors, who could win”, Ferry Weertman said after taking the gold with a finishing sprint at the last 100 meters. Jack Burnell (Grea Britain) came second and the French Marc Antoine Olivier (who led the pack for most of the second half of the race) grabbed bronze. Both Burnell and Olivier clinched their first ever medal respectively at a major international meet among the seniors.
Medallists, 10 km
- Rachele Bruni (Italy) & Aurelie Muller (France) – 2:07:00.1 h
- Arianna Bridi (Italy) 2:07:03.6 h
- Ferry Weertman (Netherlands) – 1:55:20.6 h
- Jack Burnell (Great Britain) – 1:55:21.2 h
- Marc Antoine Olivier (France) – 1:55:21.6 h