BARCELONA, July 13. ITALY'S Viola Valli and Russia's Evgueni Kochkarov, both world open water champions,
won the first gold medals at the World Championships in Barcelona today, taking the women's and men's 5-K races, respectively.
Neither of them had an easy time of it, as they were pressed every stroke of the way.
The women's medals were won by three of the pre-race favorites. Valli finished in 57 minutes, 01.2 seconds. The Czech Republic's Jana Pechanova was 2.7 seconds behind while German golden girl, Britta Kamrau, was another 2.5 seconds in arrears. Holland's venerable Edith van Dyke was eighth in 57:09.2.
The two American entrants finished well back. Megan Ryther was 17th in 58:32.1 while Elizabeth Byrum placed 25th (1:01:43.4) among the 28 contestants.
Kochkarov took the men's race in 53 minutes, 11.9 seconds, exactly two seconds ahead of Germany's Christian Hein. Russian Vlad Diattchine edged Italy's Marco Formentini for the bronze.
Australia's Josh Santacaterina was the big surprise among the contenders, finishing a strong fifth in 53:17.5.
The American men swam a little better than their female counterparts. Daniel De Marco was 12th in 53:31.0 while Ptarick Dideum placed 19th among the 34 finishers in 54:29.6.
Women's 5 K
1. Viola Valli (ITA) 57:01.2
2. Jana Pechanova (CZE) 57:03.9
3. Britta Kamrau (GER) 57:06.4
4. Ekatarina Seliverstova (RUS) 57:07.3
5. Paula Wood (GBR) 57:07.8
6. Yurema Requena (ESP) 57:08.2
7. Stefanie Biller (GER) 57:08.6
8. Edith van Dijk (NED) 57:09.2
Men's 5 K
1. Evgueni Kochkarov (RUS) 53:11.9
2. Christian Hein (GER) 53:13.9
3. Vladimir Diattchine (RUS) 53:14.8
4. Marco Formentini (ITA) 53:15.5
5. Josh Santacaterina (AUS) 53:17.5
6. Stefano Rubaudo (ITA) 53:17.8
7. Emmanuel Poisser (FRA) 53:18.2
8. Alan Bircher (GBR) 53:25.0