Marathon swimmer Kareena Lee won bronze for Australia this morning, the nation’s first medal in the sport. For all your Tokyo 2020 coverage, stay tuned to The Inner Sanctum’s Olympic hub and the Olympics Central.
Australia’s love affair with medals won in the water continued though in an unlikely event as Olympic debutant Kareena Lee became the first Australian to finish on the podium of the Marathon Swimming event.
For Lee, this moment of success indicates a sense of resilience and redemption for her after missing Rio 2016 due to medical reasons. Following a collapse prior to the 2015 World Aquatics Championships, Lee was hospitalised and was there being treated for asthma, dehydration, hypothermia and a facial injury.
Believing retirement may have been the next and only option following the circumstances, Lee didn’t allow it to become a major setback and instead powered on, determined to make it to Tokyo.
Just over two years since first qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games at the 2019 World Aquatics Championships when she finished seventh overall, Lee won the nation’s first medal in the Olympic for Marathon Swimming.
In her Olympic debut, the 27-year-old competed in the Women’s 10km open swim race at Tokyo 2020 and sitting around 10th with just under 2km to go.
However, as she revealed throughout the entirety of the race, she was able to pick up speed at crucial moments. Despite falling as far back as 15th during the midway point of the race, Lee was able to return to a position where she was a strong chance to medal, staying with the leaders of the pack.
After the 1.4km Lap 1 checkpoint, Lee was situated in seventh place though bumped up to fifth at the turn of the second and third laps. Falling back into seventh position after Lap 4, she again picked up speed to sit fifth after Lap 5 and 6, before making a run for the finish line in the final 1.5km where she trailed first by 5.5 seconds.
She would eventually only finish 1.7 seconds behind eventual gold medallist Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil and 0.9 seconds from silver medallist Sharon van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands, claiming bronze in a time of 1:59:32.5.
More Tokyo 2020 News
This year’s Olympic Games is only the fourth time Marathon Swimming has been competed at, first making an appearance at Beijing 2008.
Unlike regular swimming events, Marathon Swimming takes place in open water involving competitors to use a freestyle stroke.
Also unlike other swimming events, the 10km race doesn’t go through a qualification format to the finals at the Olympic Games themselves. Instead, a field of 25 qualify via a variety of eligibility criteria.
Kai Edwards will be representing Australia in the Men’s 10km Marathon Swimming event at Tokyo 2020 tomorrow morning.
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