Jack Burnell and Aurelie Muller both moved a step further away from Olympic heartbreak after they triumphed in a sprint finish in their respective races at the FINA/HOSA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup in Abu Dhabi (UAE), the second leg of the season.
Both swimmers were disqualified from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro – Burnell for two yellow cards in the men’s race with Muller adjudged to have obstructed Rachele Bruni and subsequently stripped of her silver medal in the women’s equivalent.
Burnell, of Great Britain, vowed to prove he was the world’s best this time and he returned to competition at the Emirates Palace course to overhaul his rivals and touch in one hour 45 minutes 54.6 seconds. Olympic champion Ferry Weertman, of the Netherlands, made a late charge through the field to finish second with Frenchman David Aubry third.
“At the end of the day, it’s ticking that box and getting the first one under my belt since Rio,” said Burnell. “I am out here to win every single race I go into, I am not out here to come second, third or fourth. “So for me it’s about turning up to races in the best possible shape I can and showing people what I can do.”
Frenchwoman Muller had been similarly distraught after Rio and she too triumphed in a blanket finish to overhaul long-time leader and Olympic champion Sharon van Rouwendaal to win in 1hr 52mins 35.4secs with Italian Arianna Bridi in third.
The women's podium
Muller said: “It was good, very good, I was first. It was difficult for me after Rio so now is my first 10k after seven months and my goal before the race was top eight because it was the pre-qualification for the French team (for the World Championships in Budapest) so I am first and I am very, very happy. It was a great race here.”