BARCELONA, July 23 (Reuters) - Poliana Okimoto made up for her bitter setback at the 2012 Olympics when she held off Brazilian compatriot Ana Cunha in the final sprint to win the women’s 10-km open water gold at the world championships on Tuesday.
An exhausted Okimoto failed to complete the event at Hyde Park’s Serpentine lake in London last year but had plenty left in the tank this time around and timed her late burst to perfection to pip Cunha to the line at the picturesque Moll de la Fusta harbour.
They were the second medals of the championships for Okimoto and Cunha, who won silver and bronze respectively behind American Haley Anderson in Saturday’s 5-km race.
The Brazilians’ performance also bodes well for a possible run at an Olympic medal in home waters when Rio de Janeiro hosts the summer Games in 2016.
“It shows that Brazil is doing serious work,” Cunha, who narrowly failed to qualify for London, told reporters.
“I watched the Olympics on TV and then I went to work and I improved a lot,” she said.
“Today I am the second best open water swimmer in the world, just behind another Brazilian athlete.”
The 30-year-old Okimoto returned a winning time of one hour 58 minutes and 19.2 seconds. Cunha, 21, the champion at 25-km at the last world championships in Shanghai in 2011, crossed the line in 1:58:19.5, with Angela Maurer third in 1:58:20.2.
The wheel has come full circle for German Maurer, a former 25-km champion who will be 38 on Saturday, as she won silver in the 10-km at the 2003 championships, also in Barcelona. (Writing by Iain Rogers in Madrid, editing by Justin Palmer)