Source: BOCOG

08-22-2008 21:57

(BEIJING, August 21) -- Maarten van der Weijden of the Netherlands won the gold medal in a huge upset in the inaugural Men's Marathon 10km Swimming race at a rainy Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park on Thursday, August 21.

Maarten van der Weijden of the Netherlands is lifted up by his teammates after winning the men's marathon 10km swimming competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, August 21, 2008.REUTERS/Aly Song (CHINA)
Maarten van der Weijden of the Netherlands is lifted up 
by his teammates after winning the men's marathon 10km 
swimming competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, 
August 21, 2008.REUTERS/Aly Song (CHINA)

Dutchman Maarten van der Weijden said the experience of beating cancer helped him win an Olympic gold medal after victory in the men's 10 kilometres open water marathon swim on Thursday.

The Dutch swimmer, who returned to competitive swimming after beating leukaemia which was diagnosed seven years ago, had not ranked among the pre-race favorites.

He put in a great sprint with 500m to go to overtake medal favorites David Davies of Great Britain (GBR) and Thomas Lurz of Germany (GER) to win in a time of 1:51:51.6.

Davies (GBR), who finished sixth in the 1500m earlier at these Games at the National Aquatics Center and was the Athens 2004 Olympic 1500m bronze medalist, just held on for the silver medal in a time of 1:51:53.1.

Lurz, with more success over the 5km distance but a world title in this distance in 2006 and one of the pre-race favorites, came home strongly to win the bronze medal in a time of 1:51:53.6.