Lijun Zu Wins Men’s 10K Olympic Qualifier, 14 Others Punch Rio Ticket


Today, China’s Lijun Zu fought off a field of challengers, including defending Olympic champion Ous Mellouli of Tunisia, for the top slot at the 2016 Men’s Marathon Swimming Olympic Qualifier in Setubal, Portugal.

Fifteen Olympic spots were on the line, with the top ten finishers (but only one from each country) booking a direct ticket to Rio. Another five spots were reserved for a special “continental” qualification. Ten swimmers already qualified for the Rio Olympic Games by placing in the top ten at the 2016 FINA World Championships in Kazan.

Lijon is often seen in the pool scene competing in the 1500 alongside Chinese distance legend Sun Yang. He finished the six 1.6m lap course in 1:52.18.2.

It was an incredibly close race among the top swimmers. Two-time team event world champion Christian Reichert of Germany came up second with 1:52:20.4, followed closely by Ecuador’s 2012 Olympian Ivan Enderica Ochoa in 1:52.22.6. Also in the mix were fourth-place Evgenii Drattcev of Russia (1:52:22.7), and defending Olympic champion Mellouli (1:52:24.8), who (despite some timing problems throughout the race) tied with Slovakian record-holder Richard Nagy (1:52:24.8) for fifth. Both swimmers have seen major success both in the pool and in open water.

Below are swimmers who auto-qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympics by placing in the top 10 today. Remember that at this meet only one swimmer can qualify per country, so the second countryman who placed in the top 10 (represented with a strikethrough) will be replaced by the next-fastest swimmer.

  • Lijun Zu, China: 1:52:18.2
  • Christian Reichert, Germany: 1:52:20.4
  • Ivan Enderica Ochoa, Ecuador: 1:52.22.6
  • Evgenii Drattcev, Russia: 1:52:22.7
  • Ous Mellouli, Tunisia: 1:52:24.8 **tie
  • Richard Nagy, Slovakia: 1:52:24.8 **tie
  • Jarrod Poort, Australia: 1:52:24.9
  • Andreas Waschburger, Germany: 1:52:25.4
  • Simon Huitenga, Australia: 1:52:28.1
  • Yasunari Hirai, Japan: 1:52:31.2
  • Chad Ho, South Africa: 1:52:31.6
  • Ventsislav Aydarski, Bulgaria: 1:52:32.3

Note that although FINA’s rules for qualification state that only nine swimmers will directly qualify by placing in the top at this event, because the host country (Brazil), already qualified Allan Do Cormo at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan, another spot is freed up in the total 25. So, the top 10 swimmers directly qualified today.

The other qualification provision ensures that there is at least one swimmer from each of the five continents represented at the Rio Olympic Games. So, after these ten, the top swimmer from each continent who competed today (and has not already had a countryman qualify) has also punched a ticket to the Games. These are final and confirmed by FINA.

  • Mark Papp, Hungary: 1:52:42.4 (14th place) – Europe
  • Erwin Maldonado, Venezuela: 1:52:49.1 (18th place) – Americas
  • Kane Radford, New Zealand: 1:52:52.8 (19th place)- Oceania
  • Vitaliy Khudyakov, Kazakhstan: 1:53:51.2 (24th place)- Asia
  • Marwan Elamrawy, Egypt: 1:54:16.0 (31st place)- Africa

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Joel Lin

Well, it is normal for there to be a lot of gamesmanship and for the first half to be a slower pace…but this race was ridiculous. It looked like only four guys were interested in participating let alone competing for the first hour. Kudos to Mellouli for swimming at the front every stroke. Did it the hard way. Zu should send a thank you card and enjoy his day. Rio will be very different with only 25 guys racing. Mellouli is now the first Olympic champion and also the first man to defend the gold. I predict he’ll next be the first man to defend the 10K Olympic gold.

Human Ambition

Kirill also tried to push it hard and was in the lead feed three but ran out of gas.
I hope NZL sends Radford.

Joel Lin

Yes he did. He was one of four guys pulled the rest for an hour.

Human Ambition

I saw he was really happy after. Great that NOC of NZL will send him this time.

Joel Lin

Yes, very happy for Kane!


Sorry, but don’t think Mellouli will win it. My money is on Wilimovsky

Human Ambition

Lots of guns in this field. Zu’s last lap was speedy.

About Hannah Hecht

Hannah Hecht

Hannah Hecht grew up in Kansas and spent most of her childhood trying to convince coaches to let her swim backstroke in freestyle sets. She took her passion to Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa and swam at NAIA Nationals all four years. After graduating in 2015, she moved to …

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