Brazil’s Okimoto, Cunha finish 1-2 in women’s 10km

Barcelona – Spain, July 24, 2013: Poliana Okimoto Cintra (BRA) and Ana Marcela Cunha (BRA) signaled Brazil’s intentions to be the faces of women’s open water swimming in the lead up to the next Olympic Games. Okimoto Cintra (1:58.19.2) touched just three tenths of a second ahead of her teammate (1:58.19.5) in the women’s 10km race. Angela Maurer of Germany (1:58.20.2) finished a full second behind the winner to claim a bronze medal. For the Brazilian swimmers it was second medal for each at these World Championships. Okimoto Cintra finished second to Haley Anderson (USA) in Saturday’s 5km race, Cunha earned a bronze medal in that race.

“I’m so excited. I have been training for this medal, even in freezing water, I have trained for this race, so this medal is pricelss. I am really happy to have my second medal in these World Championships. I felt strong during the race,” said Okimoto Cintra. Okimoto Cintra won two silver medals in 5km and 10km at the 2006 FINA Open Water World Championships in Naples, Italy.

Her teammate said: “It’s amazing to win two medals in these World Championships. It shows that Brazil is doing serious work. Two years ago in Shanghai I finished in 11th position and I was unable to compete in the Olympic Games. I watched the Olympics on TV. I went to work and I improved a lot. Today I am the second best open water swimmer in the world, just behind another Brazilian athlete. In the 2015 Kazan World Championships I want to be in the first 10 positions so that I can be at the Olympics in my country. I need to relax for a few days before the 25km on Saturday.”

Cunha won gold in the women’s 25km in 2011 and now has two bronze medals in the 5km event, one from the 2010 FINA Open Water World Championships in Roberval, Canada and one from the 5km last Saturday. Today’s bronze medal was her first in the 10km distance.

Olympic marathon champion Eva Ristov (HUN) led in a comfortable pace controlling the pace for the first hour and 15 minutes before allowing an assortment of swimmers catch up with her. At the 90 minute mark there were six swimmers at the front of the pack including Maurer, Keri-Anne Payne (GBR), Killiope Araouzou (GRE) and Martina Grimaldi (ITA). Each challenged the Hungarian swimmer for the lead. It was the Brazilians that swam past the group leaving the pack to fight it out for the bronze medal.

Keri-Anne Payne (GBR), the silver medallist in the Beijing Olympics won this race in 2009 and 2011 and dropped back to find clear water before she challenged for the podium. Payne finished in fourth place, outside of the podium in London, and in today’s race she fell back to 14th place.

Grimaldi (ITA) who had won a medal in this race at each of the last three FINA World Championships finished in 12th place.

Maurer who looked exhausted from the effort was surprisingly upbeat in her analysis of the race: “I can only say it was great; it’s my first medal in the last 10 years.” The German swimmer won a silver medal in the same harbour in 2003 swimming a second slower that she did today. Maurer owns two FINA gold medals in the 25km event, mostly recently from the 2009 Rome World Championships.

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