It seemed like Jarrod Poort’s race the whole time; the adage “it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon” didn’t apply for the Australian. Poort jumped out to an early lead in Tuesday morning’s open water marathon swim off Fort Copacabana and didn’t let go, at one point extending his lead over the field by more than a minute.
The chase pack though, which included 2012 Olympic champion Ous Mellouli and 2015 Worlds silver medalist Ferry Weertman of the Netherlands, slowly reeled him in.
Weertman sprinted for the finish with 1500 meters remaining and touched for first place. After a few minutes of waiting while officials examined the photo finish, Weertman was awarded the gold for his time of one hour, 52 minutes and 59.8 seconds.
Weertman becomes just the second Dutchman ever to win the 10k title, as countryman Maarten van der Weijden won gold in 2008, the inaugural 10k race. It is also the first time any country has swept the gold medals in the 10k, as his fellow teammate Sharon van Rouwendaal claimed gold in the women’s 10k on Monday.
Spyridon Gianniotis of Greece, competing in his fifth Olympic Games, took the silver medal with his matching time of 1:52.59.8. France’s Marc-Antoine Olivier was awarded the bronze, racing to 1:53.02.0, though China’s Zu Lijun raced to the same time, too.
Team USA’s Jordan Wilimovsky, who won the 10k world title in 2015, was part of the final sprint pack making a move, but finished fifth with his time of 1:53.03.2. It's the best-ever finish for a U.S. man in the event and he's also the first American man to compete in both the pool and an open water race in the same Olympics. He placed fourth in the 1500m freestyle on Saturday.
"Every open water race, just because of the nature of the sport, comes down to touch finishes sometimes," Wilimovsky said through USA Swimming. "I kind of got pushed abound, but congrats to the guys who did really well. It was a really tough race. Unfortunately I was kind of stuck in the middle so I really didn’t get to see anything. I didn’t really know where anyone was – I just saw splashing."
Poort ultimately finished in 21st place.
Wilimovsky’s U.S. teammate Sean Ryan was disqualified along with Great Britain’s Jack Burnell and Kazakhstan’s Vitaliy Khudyakov. After Ryan appealed the ruling, he was reinstated as the 14th-place finisher with his time of 1:53.15.5.
"I saw somebody go from the start and get out there, but I figured that when they went that early they would probably get caught," Ryan said in the same statement. "It’s a tough race, it’s hard to swim 10K on your own. I knew that the serious move would probably take place around 7.5K."