Swimming: Akatiev on the crest of a wave to win second gold

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The Independent Online
Swimming: Akatiev on the crest of a wave to win second gold

Alexei Akatiev, of Russia, won his second gold medal at the World Championships yesterday when he took the men's 25- kilometre open event off the coast of Western Australia.

Tobie Smith, of the United States, won her country's second gold of the championships when she swam to victory in the women's division.

Akatiev, 23, took the lead around the 17km mark and held on to add the 25km title to the 5km crown he won on Wednesday. "It was a very hard race with very difficult waves," he said.

Akatiev completed the single loop course in 5hr 5min 42.1sec.

Spain's David Meca came from well back in the 31-man field to take the silver medal less than two minutes adrift of Akatiev, with Argentina's Gabriel Chaillou hanging on for third. Akatiev, who also won the long distance double at last year's European Championships in Sevilla, was always on the pace, rounding the half-way marker fourth in a tightly bunched group of six leaders.

He remained with the pack until surging ahead at 17km. His move came shortly after race officials ordered the leading group to keep their distance because they were starting to encroach on each other's racing lines.

Smith swam a smart tactical race to win the women's event and emulate her compatriot Erice Rose, who won the women's 5km on Wednesday. The 24- year-old New Yorker swam conservatively on the outward leg, trailing Germany's Peggy Buchse by more than 100 metres at the half-way stage.

Smith was still around 70 metres behind the reigning European champion at the 21km mark, but her tactic paid off over the final stages as Buchse began to tire and she overtook her to win in 5:31:20.1. Buchse, who also finished third in the 5km, gained a silver after crossing the line less than a minute behind Smith. Edith Van Dijk, of the Netherlands, took the bronze.

Italy won gold in the team event, which combined the men's and women's results, with Australia taking silver and the United States third.

l Fina, the sport's world governing body, said yesterday that its doping panel was awaiting documentation from Australian customs before making a decision on the fate of the Chinese swimmer Yuan Yuan and coach Zhou Zhemen. The pair were sent home after 13 vials of human growth hormone were seized from Yuan's baggage.

- Julian Linden