July 21, 2011
WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
Duke graduate Ashley Twichell won a gold medal in her international debut Thursday when Team USA won the 5K Open Water Team Pursuit at the XIV FINA World Aquatic Championships in Shanghai, China.
Twichell teamed with Andrew Gemmell and Sean Ryan to win the 3.1-mile race in 57:00.6 minutes at the Jinshan City Beach.
“It was pretty incredible for a 5K race to come down to a single second for two teams that started 10 minutes apart,” Gemmell said. “It just shows you how tight the race was.”
Australia, with Melissa Gorman, Rhys Mainstone and Ky Hurst, finished second, just 1.2 seconds behind Team USA at 57:01.8.
“To win silver in a team event like this is a fantastic feeling and it’s something new for open water swimming which is great,” Mainstone said. “Now I know how pool swimmers feel when they represent Australia in a relay.”
Germany, with Jan Wolfgarten, 10K runner-up Thomas Lurz and Isabelle Haerle took the bronze with a third place finish in 54:44.2.
The team 5K open water event is a new world championship event this year with each of the 17 teams featuring men and women swimmers.
Twichell qualified to represent the U.S. with a third place at the 2011 10K Open Water National Championships last month in Fort Lauderdale.
Twichell will also compete with the remaining U.S. open water swimmers in the 5K open water event on Friday and 25K marathon is Saturday.
World 25K champion Linsy Heister of the Netherlands has withdrawn from the 25K in protest because the water is too hot for the lengthy race. After talking to his coach and country’s medical staff, Heister said there are serious health risks and he would not feel safe swimming.
Cesar Cielo Cleared To Swim
Brazilian Olympic and world champion Cesar Cielo was cleared to swim in this weekend’s swimming competition in Shanghai. The Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld the Brazilian swimming federation’s warning after Cielo tested positive for illegal substances. Cielo will now be able to defend his 50- and 100-meter freestyle titles. Cielo, 26, and three other Brazilian swimmers tested positive for Furosemide, a diuretic commonly used as a masking agent for other banned drugs. Cielo and two of the other swimmers, Nicholas dos Santos and Henrique Barbosa, were issued warnings and the fourth, Vinicus Waked, was suspended for one year because it was his second drug offense. FINA asked the CAS to reconsider the ruling and suspend all the swimmers but CAS denied the appeal after a six-hour hearing where Cielo presented evidence he was innocent along with specialist sports doping lawyer Howard Jacobs. The ruling has been criticized by coaches and swimmers saying it’s done a great disservice to swimming and set a dangerous precedent. “He’s obviously happy about it and is looking forward to competing,” Jacobs told reporters after the decision was announced. “The arbitrators agreed there was no intent to cheat and no performance-enhancing.” Cielo trained at the Oriental Sports Center on Thursday.
Favorite Chen Roulin won the gold medal, China’s seventh diving gold medal overall, and fifteen-year-old Hu Yadan surprised her fellow countrywomen in her worlds debut and the rest of the field by taking the silver medal on 10-meter platform. Ruolin led the prelims and semifinals and scored six tens on her final dive for 96 points and 403.65 points overall but Ruolin, the favorite, was more consistent with 405.30. Spain’s Paola Espinosa took the bronze with 377.15 points.
Former University of Miami diver Brittany Viola finished 10th with 308.05 points after qualifying 12th and earning the U.S. its first spot in the 2012 Olympics. It was an improvement on her 18th place finish two years ago when she did not final. She missed her first dive in the final but bounced back including a 72-point effort on her last dive.
“It was extremely exciting to get in the finals because that’s an Olympic spot for our country,” Viola said. “As for my performance, I know there are many improvements I can make but it’s encouraging that I can go home and focus on some things. I’m learning more and more about myself as I compete.”
Stanford junior Annika Craig and Lauren Wenger each scored three goals to lead the United States women’s team to a 14-4 victory over Kazakhstan and into the quarterfinals. In other games, Greece edged Russia, 6-5; Spain defeated Brazil, 12-4; South Africa and Cuba tied 9-9; Australia routed Uzbekistan, 27-2; Canada beat New Zealand, 11-4; and Italy edged China, 10-9.
Delivering a masterful routine to the opera Carmen Suite, Russia dominated the team event and won its fifth gold medal after winning the free combination with 98.470 points. China took the silver with 96.360 points. Canada won its first worlds synchro medal when they took bronze with 96.150 points.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org