World Cup title makes Lurz favourite for Olympic gold
Germany's Thomas Lurz capped off a fine season when he was crowned overall champion after winning the Hong Kong leg of the Fina Marathon World Cup series at Repulse Bay yesterday.
Lurz led from start to finish, and the victory added gloss to his triumph at the world championships in Shanghai in August and makes him one of the clear favourites for a gold medal at the London Olympics next year. 'That is my goal, to win the gold medal. I will take a three-week rest now that the season has ended before getting back to training and preparing for the Olympics. It is good to finish off with a victory,' Lurz said.
The 31-year-old won bronze at the last Olympics in Beijing when marathon open-water swimming was staged for the first time.
Lurz had to hold off a stiff challenge from compatriot Christian Reichert and South African Chad Ho, who made a move with 800 metres to go in the 10-kilometre race.
Lurz won in one hour, 58 minutes and 15 seconds, and the trio were separated by just one second. Reichert finished second and Ho third.
'It was a tough race. They pushed me all the way, and it is more satisfying when you win like this,' said Lurz, who takes home a winner's purse of US$2,500.
A total of 65 swimmers from 16 countries including Hong Kong took part in the elite race.
Coupled with winning the Shantou leg on the mainland last month and also the season-opening race in Brazil, Lurz easily finished on top of the standings in the seven-event series.
In the women's event, American Emily Brunemann finished first with a time of 2.10.59.
Germany's Angela Maurer was second, enough to claim the overall championship.
The number of countries that hosted the World Cup series this year: Brazil, Mexico, Portugal, Canada and China.