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Between 27 July and 12 August, the eyes of the world were focused on London, as the city hosted the spectacular sporting spectacle that is the Olympic Games. Just eight short years ago, when London was awarded the Games, there was some doubt about how we as a nation would cope – and it's true that Beijing 2008 was an extremely hard act to follow. Yet from the fi rst note of Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony, it was clear to the athletes and billions of spectators worldwide that London 2012 was going to be an experience to remember. And so it proved. Newly built venues, with their innovative architecture, combined with iconic London locations to provide a stunning backdrop to the events. The Aquatic Centre was among the fi rst venues to see live action, and the Games were set alight by swimming legends such as Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte. But for open water swimming fans, the pool was just a warm-up for the event we were waiting for: the 10km Open Water Marathon, at the Serpentine in Hyde Park. For both events, there was a festival-like feeling in the air. Even on non-event says, around 200,000 people thronged the park, lazing in the shade and catching the daily action on jumbotron screens. From 9-10 August, crowds of 40,000 lined the Serpentine to

watch 25 men and 25 women bat le it out for those all-important swimming marathon Olympic medals. The women were fi rst up, with 24 taking the pontoon just before midday (Yanqiao Fang of China was a non-starter). Conditions were perfect, with a cloudless sky refl ected in the tranquil 20C waters. At noon, the starting offi cial sounded the klaxon to begin the

race. I was one of three offi cial commentators at the venue, and so I was part of the armada of boats that circled the race, and had the fl oating equivalent to a ring-side seat. As expected, most of the fi eld remained tightly packed until the

fi rst turning buoy, with the early leaders at this stage including eventual winner Éva Risztov (Hungary), Melissa Gorman (Australia) and Keri-Anne Payne (GB). Throughout the race, there was a cacophony of noise whenever Payne's name was mentioned, startling the bobbing ducks on the water into a frenzy of fl apping! This was Risztov’s third Olympics, having opened her career back in 2000 at the Sydney games, where she competed in the 200m and 400m individual medley. With the heightened tension of this being an Olympic fi nal, the swimmers were at times quite physical with one another, resulting in fi ve yellow cards being dished out, the fi rst of these going to Hayley Anderson (USA) in the fi rst lap. While Risztov received no yellow cards, she maintained a forceful presence during the race, and on more than one occasion swam under other competitors to secure the exact position she wanted. Risztov completed the fi rst lap in 19m22s. Lap two was uneventful by comparison, the lead being split between Anderson, Risztov and Payne, with Anderson leading as they passed under the timing gantry, in a split time of 19.47. Payne came through second. Lap three saw further yellow cards, issued to Gorman, Angela Maurer (Germany) and Yumi Kida (Japan). Approaching the halfway point there were at empts at an early break-away, with


2008 Olympic 10km marathon swim bronze medalist Cassie Patten had a swim-side seat for London 10km events, and witnessed two races of compelling drama.

Tunisia's Oussama Mellouli (number 25) lies in third place, waiting to make his decisive move to win his gold medal with a masterful swim that belied his relative inexperience


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