World Championships: Florian Wellbrock, Ana Marcela Cunha Claim 5k Gold Medals

Florian Wellbrock -- Photo Courtesy: Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Editorial content for the 2022 FINA World Championships coverage is sponsored by eo SwimBETTER. See full event coverage.
Swim faster... faster, with game-changing data insight into your technique. #eoSwimBETTER

SW eo Logo - Black Text

World Championships: Florian Wellbrock, Ana Marcela Cunha Claim 5k Gold Medals

The first individual open water events of the World Championships took place Monday, and a pair of veteran swimmers familiar to the top of the podium captured gold medals in the 5-kilometer swim. In the men’s race, Germany’s Florian Wellbrock out-swam a pair of familiar rivals from the pool, Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri and Ukraine’s Mykhailo Romanchuk, while 30-year-old Brazilian Ana Marcela Cunha defended her gold medal in the women’s competition as she got the best of a tight pack at the finish.

In the men’s race, Romanchuk was racing in open water at a major competition for the first time, and he had the lead for much of the early portion of the race, but he could not keep pace with Paltrinieri and Wellbrock over the final kilometer. Both the Italian and the German were competing for the fourth consecutive day after prelims of the 1500 freestyle in the pool Friday, the final Saturday, the mixed open water relay Sunday and now the 5k. Paltrinieri swam the second-fastest time in history as he pulled away to a surprise gold medal in the 1500, while Romanchuk followed up silver in the 800 free and bronze in the 1500 free by anchoring Germany’s relay to gold.

Here, Wellbrock edged in front of his Italian rival and continued to hold Paltrinieri at bay through the finish to secure another gold medal. Wellbrock hit the pad in 52:48.8, less than four seconds clear of Paltrinieri’s 52:52.7. Romanchuk did win bronze, more than 20 seconds back of Paltrinieri with his time of 53:13.9. The medal was Wellbrock’s third individual gold in open water at a major competition along with previous medals in the 10k from the 2019 World Championships and 2021 Olympics.

The second Italian in the race, Domenico Azerenza, placed fourth in 53:22.6, while 2017 world champion Marc-Antoine Olivier of France ended up fifth in 53:26.0. France’s Logan Fontaine (53:43.2) and Hungary’s David Betlehem (54:22.0) finished sixth and seventh, respectively, and then there was a photo finish to determine the order of the next four competitors, who all finished within two tenths of each other after more than 54 minutes of racing. Australia’s Kyle Lee (54:28.2) ended up sixth, just ahead of the Oympic silver medalist in the 10k, Hungary’s Kristof Rasovszky, ended up ninth in 54:28.3, with Australia’s Nicholas Sloman and the USA’s Brennan Gravley ending up tied for 10th in 54:28.4.

Full results of the men’s race are available here.

The women’s finish was a near repeat of the 5k at the 2019 World Championships, where Cunha touched out France’s Aurelie Mueller for gold by one second. This time, the margin of victory was even closer at nine tenths, with Cunha touching in 57:52.9 and Mueller coming in at 57:53.8. But it was not just the eventual gold and silver medalists in contention as less than 10 seconds separated with top eight finishers while the top 10 were all within 16 seconds.

Cunha won her second consecutive gold medal in the 5k at the World Championships, and she is also a four-time world champion in the 25k (2011, 2015, 2017 and 2019) and the winner of six other open water medals at Worlds. Mueller, meanwhile, won her seventh World Championships medal in open water (she has previously won three golds).

Australia’s Moesha Johnson was the leader for most of the first half of the competition, but then the lead traded hands between Mueller, the Netherlands’ Sharon Van Rouwendaaal and Italians Giulia Gabbrielleschi and Ginevra Taddeucci. A wild finish brought Cunha into the pad first, followed by Mueller, while Gabbrielleschi took the bronze in 57:54.9, just two seconds off gold-medal pace. Fast-finishing German Leonie Beck was fourth in 57:56.2.

The rest of the top 10 included Maria de Valdes (57:59.0), Taddeucci (58:00.4), Brazil’s Viviane Jungblut, Johnson (58:02.5), Germany’s Jeannette Spiwoks (58:06.2) and van Rouweneaal (58:08.9). After those swimmers, the rest of the field was almost two seconds off the pace.

Full results of the men’s race are available here.

Notify of

Welcome to our community. We invite you to join our discussion. Our community guidelines are simple: be respectful and constructive, keep on topic, and support your fellow commenters. Commenting signifies that you agree to our Terms of Use

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x