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The start of something extraordinary

Webby earns best World Cup swimming result

Taranaki open water swimmer Charlotte Webby has enjoyed the best result of her international career, finishing fifth in the final round of the FINA Marathon World Cup in Hong Kong.

The 26 year old finished behind Australia’s former world champion Melissa Gorman and one place behind World Cup series champion and last year’s world championship silver medallist Ana Marcela Cunha.

The New Zealander pushed hard to stay with the early hot pace over the five-lap, 2km course, as Gorman pushed hard at the front. Webby remained in the top-10 through the midway mark and focussed on conserving energy for the final lap when the pace turned up a notch.

Hungarian champion Anna Olasz out-touched current world champion Poliana Okimoto (BRA) for the victory with double world champion and Olympic medallist Keri-Ann Payne (GBR) grabbing the final spot on the podium ahead of Cunha.

Webby was only dropped by this glamour group in the final 200m, holding on strongly for fifth in 2:05.30, only 10 seconds behind the winner and ahead of the likes of Gorman and leading American Christine Jennings.

It is the first time that the Taranaki swimmer has bettered all Australian and USA swimmers in a 10km open water race, with the Hong Kong event attracting 42 women from 20 countries.

Her coach Sue Southgate said Webby had benefitted significantly from competing in four 10 km open water races in the last three months, with each swim improving not only on her placing but her ability to stay with the leaders and be able to finish strongly.

“This has been the biggest improvement in her races this year. She now has the confidence that she can be there with them in the last 1500m when everyone steps up the pace for the finish,” said Southgate.

Waikato’s Troy Balvert finished 28th in the men’s race won by Germany’s Christian Reichert in 1:52.12 with the Kiwi under three minutes back in the 51-strong field.

The Brazilian pair of Cunho and today’s runner-up Allan Do Carmo took out the overall series titles.

Results, FINA 10km Open Water Marathon World Cup, Hong Kong:

Women: Anna Olasz (HUN) 2:05:20.7, 1; Poliana Okimoto (BRA) 2:05:20.9, 2; Keri-Ann Payne (GBR) 2:05:22.2, 3; Ana Marcela Cunha (BRA) 2:05:22.2, 4; Charlotte Webby (NZL) 2:05:30.3, 5.

Men: Christian Reichert (GER) 1:56:12.4, 1; Allan Do Carmo (BRA) 1:56:12.7, 2; Andreas Waschburger (GER) 1:56:12.9, 3. Also: Troy Balvert (NZL) 1:58:56.1, 28.