Muller of France wins women's 10k open water title at worlds

BY foxsports • July 28, 2015

KAZAN, Russia (AP) There were medals at stake in the women's 10-kilometer open water race at the world swimming championships. A top-10 finish was just as good, though, since it secured a trip to next year's Olympics.

Aurelie Muller of France won by 2.4 seconds on Tuesday after leading the last two laps on the Kazanka River. She hit the touchpad in 1 hour, 58 minutes, 4.3 seconds.

''It was a crazy race and my goal was top 10,'' she said. ''I'm very, very happy.''

Sharon van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands earned silver in 1:58:06.7. Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil took bronze in 1:58:26.5, finishing 22.2 seconds behind Muller to secure a berth for her home Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

China's hopes of a golden sweep in diving ended when Tania Cagnotto of Italy won the 1-meter title by 1.65 points over Shi Tingmao. Cagnotto led all the way and hung on to qualify for a sixth Olympics at age 30 despite getting outscored by Shi in the final round.

Shi's last dive carried a 2.6 degree of difficulty compared to 2.4 for Cagotto. Shi earned 70.20 points to 61.20 for Cagnotto, who has never been higher than fifth at the Olympics. The Italian benefited from her early lead, carrying a 10.65-point advantage into the last round that allowed her to survive being outscored.

''I was really nervous. I hoped for this result, but you never know,'' Cagnotto said. ''It's the first time ever that I've beaten a Chinese athlete in a world championships.''

Cagnotto totaled 310.85 points. Shi took silver with 309.20 and her teammate, He Zi, earned bronze at 300.30. China had claimed gold in the first five diving events in Kazan.

''I made a few slips and it is my fault that I failed to win,'' Shi said.

China's Qin Kai became a five-time world champion in 3-meter synchronized diving, teaming with Cao Yuan to win gold with 471.45 points. Qin also won the title in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013 with different partners.

Russia's Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ilya Zakharov settled for silver at 459.18 after leading two of the six rounds. Jack Laugher and Chris Mears of Britain took bronze at 445.20.

In open water, Muller and Van Rouwendaal prepared for worlds while training together in France.

''I thought maybe I can win but Aurelie, she was too fast,'' Van Rouwendaal said. ''I think I'm much stronger next year and I can surprise myself again at Rio.''

Cunha doesn't train at Copacabana beach, site of the open water competition for Rio, where the water quality has been criticized for being heavily polluted.

''The water quality is as well as for a competition like this,'' she said through a translator. ''That's why people go there and see and do their tests about the quality of the water. In Copacabana beach, it's pretty good.''

Conditions were ideal for the second straight day on the rectangular course near the Kazan Kremlin. Similar to the men's 10k on Monday, the 73-degree F (23-degree C) water was flat and the air temperature was 77 degrees F (25 degrees C).

Muller took the lead on the third lap and maintained it until the finish. She was joined by Rachele Bruni of Italy and Van Rouwendaal heading for home, with the trio 22 seconds ahead of the chasing group.

Van Rouwendaal, who led most of the way in the 5k before finishing fourth, never seriously pressured Muller. Bruni dropped back in the closing meters and wound up fourth.

Poliana Okimoto Cintra, the 2013 world champion, also qualified for Brazil, finishing sixth.

Others qualifying for Rio were: Anastasia Krapivina of Russia, fifth; Isabelle Harle of Germany, seventh; and Anastasia Azarova of Russia, eighth.

Haley Anderson of the U.S., who won the non-Olympic 5k Saturday, finished ninth in 1:58:35.9 to make her second straight Olympics. Eva Risztov of Hungary, the 2012 Olympic champion, grabbed the 10th and last qualifying spot for Rio.

The swimmers were bunched together for the first three-quarters of the race in a churning mass.

''I was moving all around just trying to stay up toward the top and be comfortable,'' Anderson said. ''It was a really big pack for a long time. Lots of arms. At one point somebody swam on top of me.''

Keri-Anne Payne of Britain, a two-time 10k world champion and the 2012 Olympic silver medalist, finished 15th. She will have another chance to make the Olympics at a qualifier in Portugal next May.

''Every time I trying to get into a good position somebody would pull me back or my leg would get pulled,'' Payne said. ''It just took a bit more out of me and then toward the end I just really started to struggle to keep going.''

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