Double delight for Britons caught up in 'fight in a lake'

It was officially called the 10km open water race but in reality it was the inaugural women's 10km Fight in a Lake. And Britain's Keri-Anne Payne and Cassie Patten can take immense satisfaction from the respective silver and bronze medals they won here at the Shunyi Rowing-Canoeing Park today after an enthralling and historic contest.

This was a first appearance on the Olympic schedule for an open water swim, aside from in a triathlon. Swimming's world governing body, Fina, allows it to be swum in lakes, rivers, canals or in the sea, and the Chinese picked the kindest option, four laps of the calm rowing course.

This particular 10km made double history because it featured South Africa's Natalie Du Toit, the first amputee to take part in a Games event.

In the closest of finishes, Russia's Larisa Ilchenko - the world champion and pre-Games hot favourite - swam a tactically perfect race, tracking the pace-setting pair then sprinting past the Britons only in the final yards. That has been Ilchenko's trademark in an event she has dominated for years.

Her winning time was 1hr 59min 27.7sec, just 1.5sec ahead of Payne, 20, who ended up less than two seconds ahead of Patten, 21. The Britons are team-mates at Stockport Metro, training partners and best friends.

If there was a blot on the morning then it came in the shape of the dirty sub-surface scuffle at the end. Patten had her limbs pulled during the run-in by a rival, Germany's Angela Maurer. The poetic justice was that Maurer could finish no better than fourth, although Patten might have bettered third if she had not been hindered.

“I had my legs pulled,” said Patten. “I'm just annoyed because I didn't get to savour looking up and coming in third because of that. It's unsportsmanlike. I would never pull on someone's legs so I would never assume someone would do it to me.” Holding up her medal, she added: “But at the end of the day, I've got one of these and she hasn't, so that's enough ... I don't want to start an inter-country war.”

Maurer said: “It was really crowded going around the corners. There was a lot of grabbing and pulling, but I have to say I was no angel either.”

With Payne being hindered by weeds in her costume and in her face, and Patten at one point swimming straight into a marker buoy, the event was reminiscent of another 10km full of hazards and argy-bargy last year. On that occasion, at the world championships in Melbourne, Ilchenkno won with Patten in second place, but the whole field were attacked by jellyfish. Payne was stung in the mouth, received treatment mid-race and finished 11th. And Maurer, who then finished fourth, was shocked by the ferocity of the competition. At the time, she said: “Everyone was just beating each other up. I have never experienced such a race before. It was horrible." She has evidently toughened up since.

Payne and Patten had no tactical plan but swam side by side throughout. “We're best friends, we train together and we just kind of knew when to kick at the right time,” said Payne, who looked almost as fresh at the end as at the beginning. “It's amazing what a silver medal can do for you,” she said.

Patten was hurting more, and not just because of her buoy crash, a cut leg and the scrap. “Every part of your body hurts,” she said. “Your stomach is the size of a pea, because all the blood rushes to your arms. Your body is saying stop but your head is saying 'Come on, keep going.' The last kilometre felt like 20km. Every time I looked up the finish seemed no closer.”

Du Toit, 24, was a promising young swimmer with an Olympic future when her motorbike collided with a car in 2001. She sustained massive injuries to her left leg, which was amputated at the knee a week later. Instead of giving up her sport, she became a noted Paralympian and also made every effort to compete against able-bodied athletes.

But starts and turns in a pool require two legs to be truly competitive. Open water swimming does not demand the same skills, and upper-body strength becomes a particular asset. “When I take my [prosthetic] leg off, I'm completely free in the water," Du Toit said. “That's who I am.”

She said she was disappointed with a 16th-place finish (of 24 starters) but added: “I tried my best. I'm not too happy with it, but I'll be back for 2012 ... You have to set dreams, set goals and never give up.”

Patten said: “I find this event hard, and I'm a completely able-bodied person.”

News
i100'Geography can be tough'
News
newsVideo targets undecided voters
News
Down time: an employee of Google uses the slide to get to the canteen
businessHow bosses are inventing unusual ways of making us work harder
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis Stinchcombe, of Broad Plain Boys' Club in Bristol, by a Banksy artwork, titled 'Mobile Lovers', where the sale and handover have been completed at the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, where it was on display to the public.
artHuge price will help to keep a 120-year-old youth club in Bristol open
Life and Style
Evan Spiegel, the founder of Snapchat, dropped out of Stanford University just before graduation to develop his app
techAnd yes, it is quite a lot
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins