Jack Burnell Calls Referees “Clueless” After 10K Disqualification


  • August 15th-16th, 2016
  • 9AM Local Time (8AM U.S. East Coast Time)
  • 10Km Race
  • Fort Copacabana Beach
  • Results

British swimmer Jack Burnell, who touched 5th in the men’s 10km open water marathon swim on Tuesday morning, has been red-flagged and disqualified in another raucous finish in Rio.

Just like in the women’s 10k, there was a lot of bumping, jarring, and borderline wrestling at the finish of the men’s race – where gold and silver between the Netherlands’ Ferry Weertman and Spiros Gianniotis had to be separated by photos not touch pads – and the same situation existed between three swimmers for bronze – Marc-Antoine OlivierZu Lijun, Burnell, and American Jordan Wilimovsky.

In all, it was a 6-swimmer lunge for the touch.

Burnell was the second swimmer to be disqualified in the race. Kazakhstan’s Vitaliy Khudyakov was given a red flag on the 3rd lap, among 4 other yellow flags given out.

Burnell had a mouthful for the referees after the race:

I’m absolutely disgraced. This is pinnacle of our sport, the one thing that ruins it is the referees. A ridiculous amount of boats – a not needed, they’re giving yellow cards for absolutely nothing, and banning people 2m from the end when they’re grabbing legs all over the place.

I was second, behind the guy in front with no-one either side of me and the guy pulls out the yellow card! The yellow card is supposed to be for unnecessary contact. You’ve got referees out there who don’t know what they’re doing!

We’re all coming in a line, all the best guys in the water. I feel a hand on the back of my leg which stops me dead, I take a couple of strokes and he’s still on my foot.

The judges have ruined this. We’re going to put an appeal in but it’ll do absolutely nothing. It’s ridiculous. The grandest stage of them all, ruined by a couple of judges.

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Human Ambition

Interesting discussion how we want the sport. I can not say I could see what happened by watching the airing, but Burnell’s quotes could be funneled into different questions:

1) Could anything be changed for the better in the rules?
2) Is the application of the rules good enough?
3) Could technique make (2) better if the answer is no.

OW Fan

Reduce distance to 5K and start each individual at 1:00 intervals. Like cycling’s individual TT. With only 25 competitors, ez to do. Perhaps the field could expand? The best swimmers would be on the podium.

Human Ambition

Already a LEN event, and FINA event in team. Not as exiting though.


Personally would like to see them run a 5K and a 10K race. I think running it in flights would be good. Also would like to see them work in relays for open water.

Joel Lin

He’s right, of course. I hope this appeal is a success. This DQ was exceptionally poor discretion.

Open water officials here went diva on the athletes, and that’s a shame.

Jack Burnelllylily

Pick a real swimming event??

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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