Doha, 16 February 2020 - Leonie Beck (GER) and Marc-Antoine Olivier (FRA) won the women and men's titles respectively after thrilling races in the season-opening FINA /CNSG Marathon Swim World Series Doha (QAT) 2020 at Katara Beach on Saturday.
Both the 10km races were exciting with Beck clinching her first major gold medal with a time of 1:56'41.1 in the women's race, which went down to wires. Olivier clocked an impressive 1:49'46.6 to top the men's race.
“The races were very exciting and we are happy to start the FINA Marathon series in a thrilling fashion," said Qatar Swimming Association (QSA) President Mr. Khaleel Al Jabir.
“Fields for both the races were very strong in presence of many Olympic and World champions. We now wish all the athletes the best in this important Olympic year," he added.
In the women's race that started at 11am, Germany's Beck shocked many top-ranked athletes to win her first title in FINA Marathon.
She outpaced last year's Doha winner Ana Marcela Cunha (BRA) – winner of multiple major FINA events, and reigning Olympic champion Sharon Van Rouwendaal (NED) by just 0.2sec.
Cunha secured silver medal after she was shown slightly ahead of Sharon – who took bronze – on camera.
Beck's best show came in the final lap of 2km after Sharon dominated most part of the grueling 5-lap race.
“I am very happy, this is my first international title," Beck said after her victory.
“My target was to finish among the top three or four swimmers and I am surprised to win the race. In the final lap I didn't know what was happening as I was only focusing to finish the race fast," the 23-year-old added.
“The temperature of water was fine as the sun was shining. The conditions were good to compete," said Beck.
Former European champion Arianna Bridi (ITA) was fourth in the race with a time of 1:56'42.4, while Olympic silver medalist Haley Anderson (USA) finished fifth, clocking 1:56'42.9.
2019 overall champion of this FINA series, Rachele Bruni (ITA) 1:56'43.9 came in sixth position.
All the 53 swimmers finished the women's race.
Meanwhile, in the men's race that started at 1:30pm, the 24-year-old Olivier, who won bronze medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016, was outstanding as he registered the commending win with a margin of 12.6sec.
“I am very happy to win the first race of the season like this," said Olivier.
“It was technically a different and difficult race for me and winning in it will give me confidence for the other events especially for the Tokyo Olympics. I will work more to give myself a chance to win gold medal at Olympics," he added.
Rob Muffels (GER) won the silver medal with a time of 1:49'59.2 while world champion Florian Wellbrock (GER), who was also defending his title in Doha, had to content with a bronze medal after he finished the race in 1:49'59.3.
Fares Zitouni (FRA) and Gregorio Paltrinieri got fourth and fifth positions respectively, while Ferry Weertman (NED), who won the 2018 meet in the Qatari capital, completed the race in 1:50'02.6 to finish sixth.
2019 overall champion Kristóf Rasovszky (HUN) endured a shaky start to the season as he took 1:52'08.9 to reach the finish line. A total of 75 completed the tiring race.
This was the third consecutive year when Doha hosted this FINA marathon. The second meet of the 2020 series will be held in Victoria (SEY, May 3).
Budapest (HUN, June 6), Setubal (POR, June 13), Lac St-Jean (July 19), Lac Megantic (August 1), Ohrid (MKD, August 30), Nantou (TPE, September 19), Chun'An (CHN, October 15) and Hong Kong, China (HKG, October 24) will be the other host venues of the series.
Gold - Leonie Beck (GER) 1:56'41.1
Silver - Ana Marcela Cunha (BRA) 1:56'41.3
Bronze - Sharon Van Rouwendaal (NED) 1:56'41.3
Gold - Marc Antoine Olivier (FRA) 1:49'46.6
Silver - Rob Muffels (GER) 1:49'59.2
Bronze - Florian Wellbrock (GER) 1:49'59.3