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First top-10 finish for SA’s Weber in Hungary

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By Mark Etheridge

Michelle Weber and Robyn Kinghorn have finished seventh and 41st respectively in the women’s five-kilometre open water swim at Fina’s World Aquatics Championships in Budapest, Hungary.

Formerly from Durban, but now swimming out of Cape Town, Weber raced to her best-ever finish at World Championships as she clocked 59min 27.5sec.

The race was won by United States swimmer Ashley Twichell, winner of this year’s Dusi Mile in KwaZulu-Natal, in 59:07.0, with Weber ending just over a second outside fifth place.

Kinghorn, still a matric pupil in Durban, clocked 1:03:41.5.

Weber, whose sporting feats are made all the remarkable considering the fact that she had corrective heart surgery a few years back, was ecstatic.

‘I’m very, very happy with my race. I wasn’t expecting to come seventh, but it’s just great to be so close to some of the worlds best athletes.

’I’m so thankful to everyone who has supporting me, my dad, mom, my siblings and coaches.

‘As for the race itself, well conditions were pretty tough – it was definitely the choppiest the water’s been throughout the whole competition.

‘There wasn’t a lot of wind, but there was more than on the other days. I had a good line and was actually in the top three at a stage.

‘I’m still very inexperienced compared to the girls who beat me, but what a nice improvement. Previously I’ve been in positions like 19th, 22nd and 25th, so a top 10 is great. I’m still being overwhelmed by all the love and support around me.’

And Weber went on to praise the Hungarian venue. ‘Budapest is just so beautiful, the whole location and venue.  It’s obvious the organisers have put so much work into making it a success, which it definitely is.’

As for Kinghorn, she’s not even 18 and looks a real talent in the making.

‘The experience was really good, I feel like I’m learning more and more as I race each time, as well as from watching the men’s races.

‘I tried my best to keep up with the leading pack, but they got away from me and I wasn’t able to hang on.

‘Now I’m returning home to work hard towards future goals, now that I know just how hard the competition promises to be.’

WeberPictured right, she writes her matric exams later this year. ‘I now need to go home and focus on my trials and finals coming up, as well as KZN championships and a few other galas. Also, when I get home I’ll be discussing with my coach what he wants from me in terms of bettering my swimming.’

The future is exciting for these two open water talents when one considers that at 28, Twichell is eight years older than Weber and more than 10 years senior to Kinghorn. She’s also the oldest US swimmer to win a FINA open water title.

Now more than ever, international opportunities must be made available to the duo in order to gain the experience that only international competition can give.

Meanwhile, in the mixed relay over 5km, South Africa ended 12th with a team of Danie Marais, Chad Ho, Weber and Kinghorn.

They clocked 56:05.3 as France won in 54:05.9 from the US (54:18.1) and Italy (54:31.0).


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