DUBAI, UAE, November 27. THE Australian men and Russian women were dominant in the 5 km. races today, the first day of competition held at the 3rd FINA Water World Swimming Championships, in Dubai Creek, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Tirty men and 21 women contested the event, with the Australian men and Russian women each finishing with the gold medal and a minor medal. In anticipation of some close races, for the first time in a FINA World Championships, each swimmer had a transponder that activated the electronic timing system on the touch pads.
The Men's Race
The men's competition was very close, as virtually the entire pack stayed bunched up until the final several hundred meters.
At the three-quarters mark, Germany's Christian Hein and Thomas Lurz held the lead, closely followed by Australia's Josh Santacaterina and Britain's Alan Bircher with another Aussie, Grant Cleland, in the pack right behind the leaders.
In the final straightaway, however, it was Cleland who had the most left as he quickly fought his way to the lead pack, then out-dueled Hein for the gold. Cleland finished in 56 minutes 52.9 seconds, just over a second ahead of Hein (56:54.1), who also finished second in this event (behind Russia's Yevgueni Kochkarov) in Barcelona in 2003. Santacaterina out-fought Lurz for the bronze, touching in 56:55.4, just ahead of the 2002 bronze medalist.
Fifth place went to Mexico's Ivan Lopez Ramos — the highest finish ever for a Mexican swimmer at the World Championships. Bulgaria's Petar Stoychev, the FINA World Cup champion, was a disapopointing seventh.
Cleland's victory marked the first-ever for an Australian man in a FINA Open Water Championship.
Afterward the race, Cleland commented: "It was very hard! At the half way, Lurz pushed the pace and I was happy just to stay with him. At the end, I was just a bit stronger."
The Women's Race
While the Aussie men finished first and third, the Russian women went them one better, taking down the top two spots.
Actually, it was the Russian girls who pulled off that feat — two unknown 16 year-olds who took the measure of a star-studded field.
Larisa Ilchenko and Ksenia Popova took the lead, built it, then easily held off challenges that were too weak and too late .
Ilchenko touched first in 1:03:11.9 followed half a minute later by Popova, at 1:03:43.8. The USA's Sara McLarty, who has been on a hot streak of late, took the bronze in 1:03:52.9, while Britta Kamrau (GER) – third at the 2003 FINA World Championships in this distance – was fourth.
The great Edith Van Dijk of the Netherlands, was never a factor, finishing fifth some 74 seconds off the winning pace. The Czech Republic's Jana Pechanova, second in Barcelona last year, was ninth.
An ecstatic Ilchenko gushed : "It is the first time I am participating at a World Championships, so the victory has a special taste."
OPEN WATER SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
26 November – 2 December 2004
1. Grant Cleland (AUS) 56:52.9
2. Christian Hein (GER) 56:54.1
3. Josh Santacaterina (AUS) 56:55.5
4. Thomas Lurz (GER) 57:01.5
5. Ivan Lopez Ramos (MEX) 57:02.8
6. Alan Bircher (GBR) 57:08.3
7. Petar Stoychev (BUL) 57:32.3
8. Evgeny Drattsev (RUS) 57:48.9
9. Jarrod Ballem (CAN) 57:51.1
10. Stephane Gomez (FRA) 57:52.2
11. Fabio Venturini (ITA) 57:52.8
12. Samuele Pampana (ITA) 57:53.8
13. Maxim Luchnikov (RUS) 57:55.4
14. Emmanuel Poissier (FRA) 58:20.3
15. Vitek Rostislav (CZE) 58:23.3
16. Shaun Dias (RSA) 58:24.4
17. David Creel (CAN) 58:28.0
18. Carlos Pavao (BRA) 58:30.9
19. Jeremy Gregory (USA) 58:49.5
20. Damian Blaum (ARG) 58:52.4
21. Luis Eduardo Oliveira (BRA) 58:58.0
22. Chris Thompson (USA) 59:35.3
23. David Proud (GBR) 1:03:45.0
24. Marcos Diaz (DOM) 1:09:39.5
25. Kamel Tejeda (DOM) 1:11:28.9
26. Stelios Assimakopoulos (GRE) 1:11:30.4
27. Mubarak Salem (UAE) 1:26:25.3
28. Gamal Khamis (UAE) 1:27:38.0
29. Mohammad Abustreyeh (PLE) 1:47:37.6
El Sir El Hag El Rayah (SUD) did not finish
1. Larisa Ilchenko (RUS) 1:03:11.9
2. Ksenia Popova (RUS) 1:03:43.8
3. Sara McLarty (USA) 1:03:52.9
4. Britta Kamrau (GER) 1:03:54.0
5. Alessia Paoloni (ITA) 1:04:12.1
6. Edith van Dijk (NED) 1:04:25.4
7. Karley Stutzel (CAN) 1:04:29.1
8. Lauren Arndt (AUS) 1:04:30.2
9. Jana Pechanova (CZE) 1:04:39.9
10. Stefanie Biller (GER) 1:04:44.0
11. Ivanka Moralieva (BUL) 1:04:50.4
12. Catherine Ware (AUS) 1:04:54.3
13. Melissa Pasquali (ITA) 1:05:24.6
14. Denise Schrader (SUI) 1:05:38.2
15. Geijo Pilar (ARG) 1:06:43.4
16. Nika Kozamernik (SLO) 1:07:44.4
17. Beth Byrum (USA) 1:09:40.2
18. Paloma Lopez Carrillo (MEX) 1:12:26.7
19. Bruna Cavalcante (BRA) 1:12:59.7
20. Pamela Engel (BRA) 1:13:34.5
Tanya Hunks (CAN) did not finish
5 Km. TEAM
(based on the two best men’s and the best women’s times)
1. GER (Christian Hein, Thomas Lurz, Britta Kamrau), 2:57:49.6
2. AUS (Grant Cleland, Josh Santacaterina, Lauren Arndt), 2:58:18.6
3. RUS (Evgeny Drattsev, Maxim Luchnikov, Larisa Ilchenko), 2:58:56.2
4. ITA (Fabio Venturini, Samuele Pampana, Alessia Paoloni), 2:59:58.7
5. CAN (Jarrod Ballem, David Creel, Karley Stutzel), 3:00:48.2
6. USA (Jeremy Gregory, Chris Thompson, Sara McLarty), 3:02:17.7
7. BRA (Carlos Pavao, Luis Eduardo Oliveira, Bruna Cavalcante), 3:10:28.6