Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Trademark Finish Seals Another Gold for Ilchenko

Just like the World Championships in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 and the Beijing Olympics, Larisa Ilchenko of Russia came barreling down the finish to win another major international championship in an exciting finish.

19-year-old Ilchenko won the 10K at the European Open Water Championships in 2:00:30.9 in Croatia, just barely outgunning two Italians: Martina Grimaldi in 2:00:31.4 and Alice Franco in 2:00:32.2.

"After eight World titles and my Olympic gold medal in Beijing, I saw it as an obligation to win my first ever European title today," said Ilchenko who complained about the aggressive tactics of her competitors. "However, it was a horrible race because I was hit from right and left. I rarely took as many hits to my body as today. At the end I possibly benefitted from my experience."

Grimaldi similarly saw a silver lining, "For 9K, I was swimming in the middle of the leading pack. Towards the end I moved to the front, and after the last buoy I forced myself in between Ilchenko and Franco for the final sprint. I sprinted well to win the silver. I’m only half a second behind Ilchenko, so maybe next time I’ll beat her."

Alice Franco, who won the bronze in the 5K yesterday, won another bronze medal after leading most of the race. "Of course it is better to follow other swimmers, but today I desperately wanted a second medal and that’s why I led the field for most of the time. Two medals in two races - that’s simply fantastic."

Men's 5K time trial race is later today.

Upper photo shows Larisa Ilchenko after the 10K. Photo by Giorgio Scala of Deepbluemedia.

Lower photo shows Ilchenko (left), Grimaldi (middle) and Franco (right) leading the pack and battling towards the finish. Photo taken by Giorgio Scala of Deepbluemedia.

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