By Mark Etheridge
Swimming only his third international event, Troy Prinsloo powered his way to an impressive 12th spot at the Olympic open water 10-kilometre event on Friday.
The 26-year-old Durban swimmer clocked 1hr 50min 52.9sec to pip Venezuela’s Erwin Maldonado Saavedra in a photo-finish after six laps of the Serpentine waterway in Hyde Park.
The winner in what was described as evolutionary moment for open water swimming (much like Lance Armstrong and Usain Bolt did for cycling and athletics) was Tunisia’s Oussama Mellouli who won in 1:49:55.1 ahead of Germany’s Thomas Lurz (1:49:58.5) and Canada’s Richard Weinbeger (1:50.00.3). Lurz was the bronze medallist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Prinsloo was 12th out of 25 competitors. And the man who lists the Gladiator as his famous movie, had to fight like a warrior in warm summery conditions.
“Wow it was really tough out there today,” he said. “Those front guys were really fast, they were flying. To be honest I had no idea where I was lying throughout the race.
“All I was doing was making sure I held on to the pack. It wasn’t easy at all but there’s no disappointment at all. I gave it my all out there.”
Trained by Nick Gray in Durban and Cedric Finch in Cape Town ÔÇô “he sped me up in the last few weeks” ÔÇô Prinsloo has only had two major open water events under his belt.
That was the FINA World Championships in Shanghai last year and then this year’s Olympic qualifier event in Portugal where he ended fifth to seal his spot in the Games.
What’s up next for Prinsloo. “Well obviously I need more experience in open water swimming so if I can get some more funding (from either SASCOC or somewhere else) I’d like to focus on the 2016 Games in Rio but funding is absolutely vital because you have to get the experience of swimming regularly against these guys.
“More immediately I’ve got two World Cup events coming up in September/October so there’s not much chance of a break.”
On Thursday our only women’s open water representative, Jessica Roux, was forced to withdraw from the 10km event.