Olympics Summer

Canada's Weinberger swims to open-water bronze

Canada's Richard Weinberger won the bronze medal in the men's open-water 10km marathon swimming event Friday at the London Games.
Richard Weinberger competes in the Olympic men's open-water 10 km marathon swim event at Hyde Park. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Richard Weinberger has won bronze in the men's open-water marathon at the London Games.

Weinberger stayed with the lead pack to finish third, while Tunisia's Oussama Mellouli won gold. Germany's Thomas Lurz took silver.

"You've just got to have fun," said Weinberger. "That's pretty much my position going into every single race. I'm here to have fun, I'm here to race these guys and compete, but racing is just the best.

"Training is hard and this is like Christmas morning."

Mellouli, who earned bronze in the 1,500-metre freestyle last week, became the first swimmer to win medals in both the pool and open water at the same Olympics.

The Tunisian pulled away from a small group of leaders in the fifth of six laps and won in 1 hour, 49 minutes, 55.1 seconds in the murky waters of the Serpentine in Hyde Park.

It was the second gold of Mellouli's Olympic career. He won the 1,500 at the 2008 Beijing Games.

The only previous swimmer to win medals in both the pool and open water at the Olympics was David Davies of Britain.

"Nothing compares to this," Mellouli said. "There's no way I can top this achievement."

Mellouli overcame shoulder and elbow injuries before the games, as well as a virus two days ago. Now, he's considering retirement.

"Only those close to me know how much I struggled to get here today," Mellouli said. "I don't think there's a better way to go out than this. I can just leave it all behind and have no regrets."

Weinberger not far back

The 22-year-old Weinberger, who lives and trains in Victoria, is the first Canadian to win a medal in open-water swimming.

The sport made its Olympic debut in 2008 in Beijing, but Canada didn't qualify any swimmers then.

Weinberger, who was born in Moose Jaw, Sask., served notice he was an Olympic medal contender for London by winning last year's test event.

He was 5.2 seconds behind Mellouli on Friday.

Calm conditions

The 25-man field completed six laps of a 1-mile course in near-perfect conditions as fans lined both banks of the rectangular lake under bright sunshine.

Marathon races are usually contested in oceans or seas, where athletes have to deal with waves and currents — and more wildlife — making this race relatively tame, and allowing Mellouli to use his pool expertise.

Mellouli stayed with the leaders for the first few laps then opened up a small lead on the fifth lap. That was all he needed to do, and it left three other swimmers fighting for the other medals, although world champion Spyridon Gianniotis of Greece dropped back in the final stages and finished fourth, 10.2 seconds behind.

Gianniotis had been among the favourites and was hoping to give Greece its first gold of the Games after winning three World Cup races this year.

Lurz has won the 5K race seven times at worlds but has struggled to dominate the 10K event. 

Meanwhile, the crowd favorite was Benjamin Schulte, a 16-year-old from Guam, who finished far behind all of the other competitors. Fans stuck around and applauded loudly when Schulte finally finished nearly 14 minutes after Mellouli.

With files from The Associated Press