GLASGOW (Reuters) - Ferry Weertman won the men’s European Championships open water 10-km title after the most dramatic of photo finishes in Loch Lomond on Thursday to complete a Dutch double after Sharon van Rouwendaal won the women’s race.
Olympic champion Weertman had looked beaten coming into the final 100 meter sprint to the line but produced a remarkable last-gasp surge to touch the finishing board fractionally ahead of the long-time leader, Hungary’s Kristof Rasovszky.
Women’s champion Van Rouwendaal also had her own dramas after forgetting her swimming costume, having to swim naked beneath her wetsuit and then having an awkward conversation with a steward.
After their exhausting slog, Weertman and Rasovszky were given the same time of one hour 49 minutes 28.2 seconds. It was so close that it took several minutes before the judges confirmed the 26-year-old Dutchman had touched first.
Rasovszky admitted he made an error in reaching out for the board, allowing the more experienced Weertman to touch fractionally ahead.
The Dutchman, no stranger to winning the closest of finishes as his Olympic triumph at Copacabana demonstrated, gave the crestfallen 21-year-old a consoling hug.
Earlier, Olympic champion Van Rouwendaal completed the double which had narrowly eluded the men’s 5km winner Rasovszky when she added the blue riband 10 km title to the 5km gold she had won 24 hours earlier.
Her biggest problem came when she realized she had turned up at Loch Lomond without the costume she usually wears beneath her wetsuit.
“(Afterwards) the steward said, ‘You have to change here’. And I said, ‘Well, I’m naked under it so I don’t think so’,” Van Rouwendaal laughed.
“Now you will see next year everyone going naked! But if you have a hole in the wetsuit during the race, it’s a problem.”
In the chilly waters of Loch Lomond with the rain coming down at the end, the 24-year-old had no problems, proving as relentless over the near-two hour slog as she had done on Wednesday, setting the pace for all but the first km of the race.
Entering the last of the four 2.5km laps, only Italy’s Giulia Gabrielleschi could still hang on to Van Rouwendaal’s pace as it turned into a two-swimmer duel but even the dogged Italian was eventually broken over the final km.
Van Rouwendaal, the Olympic champion at the distance, forged away to win by 7.3 seconds in one hour 54 minutes 45.7 seconds.
Behind Gabrielleschi (1:54:53.0) came Van Rouwendaal’s Dutch team mate, Esmee Vermeulen who took the bronze in 1:55:27.4.
Van Rouwendaal now has her sights set on winning four golds at the championships as she targets Saturday’s 5km mixed team relay and Sunday’s individual 25km event.
Reporting by Ian Chadband; Editing by Ken Ferris and Ed Osmond