WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
August 9, 2012
The women’s 10K open water swimming gold medal came down to a sprint in the Serpentine at Hyde Park.
Eva Risztov of Hungary outsprinted American Haley Anderson by 4/10ths of a second to win in 1 hour, 57 minutes and 38.2 seconds on the 1.6K loop course lined with an estimated crowd of 30,000.
It was Hungary’s second medal of the Games.
Martina Grimaldi of Italy took the bronze 3.6 seconds behind the winner and Great Britain favorite and two-time world champion Keri-Anne Payne was fourth, .4 seconds out of a medal.
Risztov, 26, took it out hard early in the race and remained in control of the race. As Risztov and Anderson entered the finish chute they were nearly shoulder-to-shoulder. Anderson veered off to the left while Risztov kept on swimming straight and touched first.
The six loop splits were 19:22, 19:47, 20:00, 19:49, 19:33 and 19:05 during the physical race that featured five yellow cars and referee whistle warnings.
“I decided to make it a very clean race,” Risztov said. “This is the toughest way to win. If I am leading, they can’t say I did anything. This was my tactic.”
The three-time Hungarian Olympian had retired in 2005 after competing in the 2004 Olympics but decided to make a comeback in open water swimming in 2009.
It was Anderson, 20, a senior at University of Southern California, who out-touched Risztov in the June Olympic qualification race in Portugal by 1.4 seconds.
“I usually start off in the back and work my way up,” Anderson said. “I was towards the front from the beginning, so it wasn’t rough. I put in a good race. It took a lot of energy to catch up to Eva. I gave it everything I had. I’m really happy with the results. She had a really good race.”
Anderson’s sister Alyssa won a gold medal as part of the U.S. 800-meter freestyle relay during the pool swimming.
The men’s 10K event is Friday. Among the field is American Alex Meyer.
Nineteen-year-old Chen Ruolin got China back on the gold medal winning track capturing the women’s 10-meter platform title at Aquatic Centre, completing a sweep of platform events for the second consecutive Olympics.
Only China’s Fu Mingxia and Americans Dorothy Poynton-Hill and Patty McCormick have won individual 10-meter titles at consecutive Games.
Chen finished with 422.30 points during the five-dive final finishing with a 55.80 margin of victory. She also won the platform synchro gold medal.
“I feel very pleased to have another gold medal for China, the more, the better,” Chen said. “I was very relaxed. It’s like it’s not the Olympic Games. I didn’t feel any pressure.”
Aussie Brittany Broben took silver. Broben is 16 competing in her first Olympics. She finished with 366.50 points. At 16, she is also Australia’s youngest Olympian in London.
“Please don’t pinch me because I never want to wake up,” Broben said. “It’s amazing. My coach was holding his breath on the last dive.”
Pandelela Pamg of Malaysia took the bronze with 359.20. It was her country’s first Olympic medals in diving and first in any sport besides badminton.
Former University of Miami diver Brittany Viola didn’t make it out of the semifinals. Viola finished 15th in the semifinals with 300.50 points. U.S. teammate Katie Bell also failed to advance with a 16th place with 296.80 points. Viola started strong but had less than stellar dives in later rounds.
“My mind felt right, my body felt right, it just didn’t come together,” Viola said. “Still, to be here was just incredible. I’m going to celebrate this journey. I never thought I’d be here.”
For the first time in the sport’s history, the U.S. women’s team won the gold medal. The top-seeded Americans defeated Spain, 8-5, in the championship final.
After the first 15 minutes of the game, the U.S. dominated. Stanford freshman Maggie Steffens scored five goals in the final to finish with 21 goals for the tournament. She put the U.S. in the lead, 3-2, with 5:36 left in the half. The U.S. led the remainder of the game.
The U.S. was 8-for-17 on shots compared to Spain’s 5-for-28 and dominated despite losing ground on time of possession, 16:58 to 15:02.
The U.S. men’s team failed to reach the semifinals after losing to Croatis in Wednesday’s quarterfinals.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com