Wellbrock, Momochi’s ‘shark’

“I don’t like getting caught up in the group, swimming at someone’s feet. I like to set the pace, decide where we have to go and when we have to be faster or slower”. There are few swimmers who have the ability to execute what they think. One of them is Florian Wellbrock, current Olympic champion on the fervent waters of Tokyo Bayand now world champion at Fukuoka’s Momochi Beach Park. His 10k open water trial was another demonstration of his strategy and his strength; in short, his determination and his ability to tolerate suffering. A gold (already achieved in 2019 in Gwangju, South Korea) that gives him the ticket for the Paris 2024 Games and that enlarges the palmares of a legend already of this recent discipline.

From start to finish, the German swimmer who combines open water with long-distance events in the pool (he was bronze in the 1,500 freestyle in Tokyo 2020) set the pace of the race and created a shrinking group, like a gregarious man who pulls the peloton up a Tour port. The rivals were dropping like flies, among them the previous dominators of the World Cup in Budapest, the Italians Gregorio Paltrinieri and Domenico Acerenza, who tried to push on the seventh lap and came to lead. But Wellbrock is not a herdsman, he is a leader, the shark of the open waters. On the last lap, he shifted up a gear until he touched down first (1:50.40). A solo victory, like the one that crowned him in Tokyo.

Kristof Rasovszky, Florian Wellbrock, and Oliver Klemet.
Kristof Rasovszky, Florian Wellbrock, and Oliver Klemet.PHILIP FONGAFP

In second position, almost 19 seconds behind and after a special one-on-one, the Hungarian Kristof Rasovszky touched with 1:50.59. Another swimmer who is hanging medals and secured the ticket to Paris. “I’m very happy. Florian was very strong in the last lap”, certified the Magyar, who overtook the German Oliver Klemet in the photo (1:51.00). If Italy dominated a year ago at Lupa Beach (Budapest), now it is the turn of Germany, which accumulates two golds after the victory in the women’s category of Leonie Beck on Saturday.

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After more than a minute, in fourth and fifth position, arrived the Italians Acerenza (1:51.16) and his teammate, the 2016 Olympic champion and 2022 world champion in 1500 and 10 km, Paltrinieri, in 1:51.40. “I’m calm, I gave it my all, it doesn’t bother me that much, I knew I wasn’t feeling well and in fact I never looked to set the pace of the race, knowing it would be difficult. I tried to stay calm, I needed the gearbox that I didn’t have,” said the Italian, who has had up to six stoppages in his preparation since January, one of them due to mononucleosis. “I’m proud of his comeback, of his fight,” said the Italian coach. Catalan swimmer Guillem Pujol rose to nineteenth position with a time of 1:54.06.

The first ten classified of the 10km open water.
The first ten classified of the 10km open water.

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