August 4, 2021

By Sakura Murakami

TOKYO, Japan (Reuters) -Florian Wellbrock of Germany powered to gold in the men’s 10km marathon swimming competition at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday, setting the pace early on as he retained a lead throughout the race that took him over the finish line.

Kristof Rasovszky of Hungary took silver and Gregorio Paltrinieri of Italy claimed bronze.

Wellbrock broke away from the rest early in the race and spearheaded the laps around Tokyo’s Odaiba Marine Park, maintaining a steady lead throughout the race. Hungarian Kristof Rasovszky and Frenchman Marc-Antoine Olivier stayed close, making the leading pack.

Small groups of swimmers dotted the length of the course as they chased after Wellbrock.

Cars and trains glided across the Rainbow Bridge, and a monument of the five Olympic rings could be seen in the distance as the athletes swam the 10km race, occasionally surprising fish out of the water.

Temperatures rose throughout the day under a cloudless sky and a sizzling sun that made surfaces hot to touch, with the water temperature at 29 degrees (84 degrees Fahrenheit) when the race started at 06:30 AM.

Although at times Rasovszky was hot on his heels, Wellbrock refused to concede the top spot, eventually leaving behind second place Hungarian Kristof Rasovszky in the last lap as he powered through the course.

His lead was so clear that team mates could be heard cheering and whistling well before he reached the finish line.

Wellbrock claimed bronze at the men’s 1500 freestyle on Sunday, and also won the world championship for the 10 km swim in 2019. He is the second athlete to win a medal in swimming and marathon swimming at one Olympic Games, after Tunisia’s Oussama Mellouli.

(Reporting by Sakura Murakami;Editing by Shri Navaratnam)