Roberval 2010, Day 3 (M): Thomas Lurz (GER) captures 6th consecutive gold medal in 5K event
Thomas LURZ (GER) collected a yellow card in today's FINA Men's 5K race and worried that might be the end of his consecutive championship streak in the 5K event. LURZ (GER) earned the warning for running into one of his competitors in the first of two laps in the spectacular venue on the shores of Lac-St-Jean in Roberval, Canada. It wasn't a deal breaker for LURZ. Since winning the 5K event in Montreal at the 2005 FINA World Championships no other swimmer has beaten him at this distance. His first place finish today in a time of 57:42.6 confirms that he is the most successful male open water swimmer, with nine FINA gold medals in his collection. The accomplished German swimmer also has collected two each of silver and bronze medals at FINA World Championship events. But the most important medal is the Olympic bronze medal he earned at the 10K competition from Beijing in 2008.
Today's 20 degree water temperature of Lac-St-Jean was favorable to the German, and was vastly different to the challenge presented by the 16 degree cold water that affected his 10K race on Sunday. LURZ had previously won the 10K event at the 2004 and 2006 world championships but on Sunday could only manage a 6th place. LURZ won both the 5K and the 10K events on Ostia Beach last summer during the 2009 FINA World Championships.
In today's 5K event LURZ fought off a challenge at the 200m to go mark from USA's Fran CRIPPEN who was waiting to make his final sprint to the touch pad. CRIPPEN had led or was in the first three or four positions for the entire race. CRIPPEN was third at the 2.5K halfway mark while LURZ was another three seconds behind in 6th position. In the final sprint LURZ was also challenged by Evgeny DRATTSEV (RUS) racing him to the touch pad in the last 50 metres of the race. The Russian passed CRIPPEN to collect his second silver medal of the FINA Open Water World Championships having also placed second in Sunday's 10K event. The Russian swimmer was in the 5th position at the half way mark.
A yellow card was issued to #121 for an infraction at the start and the only other yellow card was the one issued to the man who would go on to win the 5K race today. The German world champion offered his thoughts about today and Sunday's race: "The water wasn't cold like Sunday and I am very happy about that. It really was just too cold for me to perform at my best in the 10K and that was really disappointing. Today I feel that I swam a perfect race."
"I didn't really feel good during my first lap today and then sometime during the first lap I was issued a yellow card for contact that the officials thought I had with one of my competitors. This is something that happens all the time in open water swimming and from the point of the warning I was extremely careful. I knew that I needed to swim off by myself and stay about from the other guys in the race. I just swam alone for awhile. I took the lead with about 1200 metres to go and I thought that I was about a body length ahead of American Fran CRIPPEN (USA) until the final turn. At the 500 metre to go mark he was trying to catch me but I was sure that I could win if I stayed ahead of him at the final buoy as we entered the sprint."
The team from Russia has now collected two silvers and one bronze medals at these championships. Evgeny DRATTSEV (RUS) was asked about his race: "I am very happy but this is only a small victory because I wanted to win. I knew that Thomas also wanted to win and it's normal that we would be challenging at the finish. Thomas is a very strong swimmer and I was focused on catching him and I hoped to pass him. I wasn't able to do that today but he was my only focus. I don't remember passing the American but I do remember chasing after LURZ. He was extremely fast today."
Fran CRIPPEN (USA) collected his second FINA bronze medal, 3.9 seconds behind the champion. Last year CRIPPEN was initially disqualified at the finish of the 10K but on appeal his third place medal was reinstated. In the 5K event on Ostia Beach last summer CRIPPEN placed 7th. CRIPPEN's bronze medal was the second medal for the Americans today; Eva FABIAN (USA) earned a gold medal in the women's 5K event.
CRIPPEN offered these comments following his race: "I was pleased with the way I swam today. I followed my race plan as closely as I could believing this was my best chance to win. I remember getting kicked in the face early in the race, that's just part of the sport and not an excuse, but it told me that I needed to get in the front and lead. With 1500m to go I felt this was the place to overtake Thomas so that I would be in first position when I turned at the final buoy for the final 200m sprint. I used an awful lot of power in trying to catch him."
"LURZ is the fastest open water swimmer in the world and I want to be the fastest open water swimmer in the world. I admire Thomas, he is tough but always fair, he always races hard and he makes me a better swimmer. That's why I love racing against him and I will keep trying to beat him."
"I felt that I raced well today but I know that I could go even faster. I know that I have the speed to win. The Russian swam a great race, and he snuck by me."
"To earn a medal at the world championships is pretty amazing. Today was a great day for the USA with Eva's gold in the women's 5K. As a team we felt that we raced really well in our 10K events over the weekend and we knew that we were capable of earning medals in our 5K events today. We talked about doing a lot of little things the right way in our individual races so that as team members we would do very well today."