Stomach bug takes shine off Thomas Lurz's World Cup series swim victory
German takes crown despite seventh place in race that ended in dramatic photo finish
Crowned 2013 World Cup champion yesterday, London Olympic medallist Thomas Lurz will have one final goal to accomplish when he lines up in the New World Harbour Race today despite not being a 100 per cent fit.
A stomach bug picked up in China last week prevented Lurz from winning the Panasonic Fina Marathon World Cup at Repulse Bay yesterday, but the highly competitive German was still smiling after being crowned the overall champion in the World Cup series, which ended dramatically with judges having to rely on video evidence after photo-finishes in both the men's and women's races.
Lurz, who finished the 10-kilometre race a poorly seventh, still managed to finish top of the overall standings, pipping Hong Kong runner-up, Frenchman Romain Bernaud, by just four points. Brazil's Samuel de Bona won in one hour 53 minutes and 34 seconds.
"I was not satisfied with my performance, which was very poor. It was my poorest finish in my whole career. I have been struggling all week with a bad stomach and I think it was due to the food and the poor quality of the water we swam in last week in China. But this is not an excuse," Lurz said.
"Although I'm still not at my best, I will take part in the Cross Harbour Race and I'm looking forward to it," added Lurz, who won a silver medal at last year's London Olympics open-water event (10km) as well as two gold medals at the world championships in Barcelona in August.
Lurz revealed that a large number of overseas swimmers had fallen ill after the China race in Shantou last weekend, the penultimate stopover in the eight-legged World Cup series.
"I know the American girl [Emily Brunemann] was also very bad and perhaps that was a reason why she didn't do well today," said Lurz, who collected his third overall world series title, having also won in 2009 and 2011.
Brunemann, who like Lurz, headed into the last leg yesterday at the top of the overall standings, only managed to finish in 10th spot. Winner of three previous legs, Brunemann saw her hopes of winning the overall crown snatched from her grasp by Italy's Martina Grimaldi, who finished second to take full advantage of the double-points on offer for the Hong Kong finale.
The women's race was won by Brazilian Poliana Okimoto in a time of 2:02:48. Judges had to review slow-motion replays to decide the other finishers before awarding second place to Grimaldi (2:02:57.8) and third to China's Lei Shan (2:02:58.1). Brazilian Ana Marcela Cunha finished fourth (2:02:58.6) after failing to register on the touch pad at the finish with her first attempt.
"The tape showed she failed to touch the first time and had to do it again and that probably cost her third spot," said Ronnie Wong Man-chiu, secretary of the Hong Kong Amateur Swimming Association. "It was a very exciting race with just split seconds deciding the top finishers."
A total of 83 swimmers from 20 countries took part. Hong Kong's top finisher in the men's race was Ling Tin-yu (25th) and in the women's Fiona Chan On-yi (21st).