After leading the pack for nearly an hour, the Netherlands’ Sharon van Rouwendaal raced to gold in the open water marathon after one hour, 56 minutes and 32.1 seconds. It’s the first Rio Olympics medal for the Netherlands in an aquatic event.
It wasn’t van Rouwendaal’s first race in Rio, however; she finished 19th overall in the 400m freestyle in the pool, and was entered in the 800m freestyle but did not race.
The race for silver and bronze was more intense. Aurelie Muller of France, the 2015 world champion in the event, finished in second place. She out-touched Rachele Bruni of Italy by 0.8 seconds. However, after undergoing review, officials disqualified Muller for unsportsmanlike behavior after interfering with Bruni’s finishing touch. Brazil’s Poliana Okimoto, who was fourth by about two seconds, was upgraded to the bronze medal. It is Brazil’s first-ever female Olympic swimming medal. Okimoto was the 2013 world champion in the 10k, and raced in the London event, but had to withdraw due to hypothermia.
The U.S.’ Haley Anderson surged from 20th place at the 7.5km mark to finish in fifth place with her time of 1:57.20.2.
"The water was perfect, the conditions were really nice, so it set up for a really good race. If you’re in the ocean you kind of have to expect that – some waves. I prepared myself as much as I could for that," Anderson, the 2012 London Olympic silver medalist in the event, said through USA Swimming. "Although I did pass a lot of people on that fourth lap, I didn’t set myself up going into that fourth lap to be successful. I’m pretty happy with not giving up and settling. I fought all the way in and tried to reel them in as best as I could."