UAE

Olympic champs to compete in 10km Swimming World Cup

Denzil Pinto 02:11 11/03/2017
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Going Dutch: Ferry Weertman (l) and Sharon Van Rouwendaal (r)

The FINA/HOSA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup returns for the second leg in Abu Dhabi on Saturday and Olympic champions Ferry Weertman and Sharon van Rouwendaal will be among the big names to feature.

Weertman and Van Rouwendaal reigned supreme for Netherlands in Rio de Janeiro in what was their last competitive major race. Now seven months later, the Dutch pair will be aiming for a repeat at the Emirates Palace.

It will certainly not be easy for both swimmers. Rachele Bruni, winner of the Abu Dhabi race in 2015 and Rio silver medalist, are among the women’s entries in the 54-person field, which also includes Poliana Okimoto Cintra and Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil, who finished second and third in 2016.

In the men’s 72-man field, Weertman will be aiming to go better than his eighth-placed finish lsat year and the 24-year-old is relishing the chance to get back in a competitive race after taking eight weeks off.

“Now it is back to the real work and this is the first 10km after Rio so it will be exciting,” he said.

After deciding against quitting after his disqualification in Rio, where he got two yellow cards, Jack Burnell will also feature after taking some time off.

The race begins at 15:00 at Emirates Palace and is part of the Abu Dhabi Swimming Festival where more than 700 amateurs are expected to compete across different categories.

ONES TO WATCH

Ferry Weertman (NED), 24-years-old

Has just been swimming in open water since seven years ago but is already making significant progress. Was crowned 10km open water European champion in 2014, before later adding the 2014 world silver to his medal collection. His greatest feat came last year when he outtouched two-time world champion  Spyridon Gianniotis for Rio gold.

Sharon van Rouwendaal (NED), 23-years-old

Competed in the pool at the London 2012 Olympics although she missed out on a medal. Prior to the Rio Games, she won gold in the 5km open water before pulling off her best ever achievement in Brazil by holding off  Rachele Bruni in the women’s 10km marathon.

Poliana Okimoto (BRA) 33-years-old

At 33, Okimoto is one of the most experienced swimmers in the Abu Dhabi field. Finished sixth in the 10km FINA World Championship in Kazan before becoming the first Brazilian to win a Olympic medal when she took Rio bronze in 10km.

Rachele Bruni (ITA) 26-years-old

Was the first Italian to win this competition in 2015 before retaining her title 12 months later. Certainly knows the conditions in the capital having won the Abu Dhabi  race in 2015 and the Rio silver-medalist will be a force in the women’s race.

Jack Burnell (GBR) 23-years-old

The Englishman took time off following heartbreaking disqualification in Rio and while it will be his first competitive appearance, he certainly has the ability to cause problems for the rest of the men’s field, having won silver in last year’s European Open Water Swimming Championships.

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