Just one day following the third edition of the women's Marathon Swimming, the men's Marathon Swimming will commence at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo (JPN). The men's race held on the same course is a 10km contest for 26 men beginning at 6:30 am on August 5.
In the water, racing for a second Olympic gold medal will be the past two champions: Oussama Mellouli (TUN) who won the second Olympic Marathon 10km held in the Serpentine of London's Hyde Park in 2012 and Ferry Weertman (NED) who will seek to retain the crown he claimed at Copacabana Beach in Brazil five years ago during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Tunisia's Mellouli became the first African male swimmer to win an Olympic gold medal in an individual event when he won the 1500m freestyle with a dramatic victory over Grant Hackett (AUS) in a star-studded field at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. In Tokyo he is competing in his sixth Olympic Games and is the only swimmer to earn an Olympic medal in pool and open water events at the same Olympic Games.
In the 2012 London Olympic Games Mellouli claimed bronze in the men's 1500m freestyle and finished his campaign with a spectacular gold in the men's 10km in Marathon Swimming. In 2012 and again in 2021 Mellouli qualified for the Olympics at the Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier, both events held in Setubal, Portugal. In 2012 he won the qualifying race and 9 years later he finished 10th in a field of 51 men in the June 20 qualifier.
Mellouli served as Tunisia's flag carrier in the 2012 Olympic closing ceremony and in the 2016 opening ceremony. If he finishes first, he could become the first man to win two gold medals in this event. The Tunisian is the only athlete in the event to have won two gold medals in the Olympic Games.
In Rio, Weertman (NED) out touched Spyridon Gianniotis (GRE) in a photo finish after both recorded the identical time of 1:52:59.80. A review of the finish line cameras declared Weertman the winner and he became the third Dutch athlete to win Olympic gold in Marathon Swimming. Dutch swimmer Maarten van der Weijden won the 2008 inaugural men's event and Sharon van Rouwendaal (NED) won the 2016 Rio Marathon 10km women's event. The trifecta from the Netherlands swimmers means that their National Olympic Committee (NOC) holds claim to the most Olympic gold medals in the discipline.
If he wins in Tokyo, it would be the third gold medal for a small nation with a large trophy case. The only Dutch man to win Olympic gold in back-to-back swimming events at the Olympic Games is Pieter van den Hoogenband, winner of the men's 100m freestyle in the 2000 Sydney and again in 2004 Athens.
Weertman finished second in the 10km at the 2015 FINA World Championships behind the USA's Jordan Wilimovsky, the champion in Kazan, Russia, but won the 10km race two years later in Lake Balaton, Hungary beating his American rival. Wilimovsky finished 5th in the 10km in Yesou, Korea, and also placed 5th at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, less than 60 hours after finishing 4th in the 1500m freestyle in the Olympic final.
MARC ANTOINE OLIVIER
Many eyes will be on Marc-Antoine Olivier (FRA), the bronze medallist who finished just a few seconds behind the reigning Olympic champion, as he will be racing for the top spot on the Olympic podium in Tokyo. Olivier (FRA) earned the bronze medal five years ago after he was declared to have finished ahead of Zu Lijun (CHN) in another photo finish on Copacabana Beach after both men recorded the exact same time of 1:53:02.00, just 2.2 seconds behind Weertman. Olivier is the only male athlete to claim a medal in this event at each of the past two World Championships as he took bronze in Budapest 2017 and silver in Gwangju 2019, held in Yesou.
Olivier qualified for the Tokyo Olympic 10km Marathon Swim by finishing 2nd, just two tenths of a second behind Weertman in the 10km race at the 2019 FINA World Championships. He was part of the French team that won the Mixed Team 5km event in Lake Balaton in 2017 and he placed 3rd in the 10km event as part of the 2017 Budapest World Championships. In February 2020, he won the FINA/CNSG Marathon Swim World Series race in Doha, Qatar.
Florian Wellbrock (GER) was the first swimmer to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics by winning the 10km at the 2019 FINA World Championships in Yesou. In the same World Championships, Wellbrock completed a historic double: just 12 days after his impressive 10km win in Yesou he also clinched the 1500m freestyle title in the pool becoming the first swimmer ever to enjoy a golden mix of salt and chlorinated water in the same edition of the FINA World Championships. In Tokyo, Wellbrock earned an Olympic bronze medal in the men's 1500m on August 1st. Wellbrock's training partner, rival and friend Rob Muffels (GER) finished 3rd in the 10km in Yesou qualifying the second German swimmer for the Tokyo Olympic Marathon. In 2019 Muffels won a gold medal for Germany as a member of the Mixed 5km Team Relay also in Yesou.
Like Germany, Italy and France are the only nations that will have two swimmers in the Olympic Marathon, based on the top 10 finish in the 10km event in Yesou in 2019. Oliver will be joined by David Aubry (FRA) who finished 10th and was the last man to qualify.
Italy's Gregorio Paltrinieri was 6th in Yesou and his teammate Mario Sanzullo finished 9th. Paltrinieri raced in the 800m and the 1500m freestyle events in Tokyo, and achieved the silver medal in the 800m event. At the 2016 Rio Olympics Paltrinieri won the gold medal in the 1500m freestyle in a time of 14:34.57, having qualified fastest for the final.
Kristof Rasovszky (HUN) won the 5km at the 2019 FINA World Championships and claimed the title of the winner of the FINA Marathon Swim World Series in 2019. He won the 5km and the 25km open water events at the 2018 European Aquatics Championships in Glasgow (GBR) and finished second, only 0.04 seconds behind Weertman in the 10km. In 2021, he won the bronze medal in the team relay event at the 2020 European Aquatics Championships held in Budapest, Hungary. He is aiming to become the second Hungarian Olympic champion in Marathon Swimming, after Eva Risztov won the women's event at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has granted an additional quota place to FINA for the men's Marathon Swimming event at the Tokyo Olympic Games. FINA has offered this quota place to the Kazakhstan Swimming Federation and the Kazakhstan Olympic Committee nominated Vitaliy Khudyakov. Therefore a total of 26 men representing 23 different nations will be racing for a podium position on August 5.
At age 37, Mellouli is the oldest swimmer in the race and 18 years old William Yan Thorley (HKG) is the youngest male open water swimmer in Tokyo.