Spanish swimmer Maria de Valdes won the silver medal this Saturday in the 10-kilometer open water event at the World Championships in Doha, a result that ensures her presence at the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024.
The Malaga woman, who won silver in the 5k at the 2022 European Championships, caps an impressive career that has seen her play for sprint gold against big favorite Dutch Sharon van Ruwendaal, Rio 2016 Olympic champion and runner-up Tokyo 2020. Finally, Van Ruwendaal stopped the clock at 1:57:26.80, one-tenth ahead of the Spaniard (1:57:26.90), while Portugal’s Angelique Andre completed the World Cup podium (1:57:28.20).
De Valdes’ silver is great news for Spanish swimming, which has not won a single swimming medal at the 2022 and 2023 world championships; Although these 2024 competitions are characterized by the absence of the biggest names in the discipline. The Spaniard won a silver medal in open water for the first time. Moreover, it was unexpected metal, even in the federation. The only precedent in this category was Maria Requena, who won bronze at the 2008 World Open Water Championships in Seville.
“I was as consistent as I could, I worked hard, with my ups and downs, but in the end all the work I put in paid off,” he said at the end of the test, when he also thanked his coach for his support and dedicated the triumph to his father , who died three months ago. It was a difficult race due to the tide and current, but she knew how to “handle it as best as possible,” as she herself explained. “I tried to keep pace with the best on every lap; I didn’t want them to get away from me. “I knew this was my chance.” He admitted that in the middle of the race he encountered some difficulties with his rivals, but managed to recover in the last stretch. And what a finale. She stayed close to the favorite Van Ruwendaal and did not leave her alone until the last second. Thus, he removes the thorn of the last Tokyo Games, which he could not qualify for.
Another Spaniard competing in Doha on Saturday, Angela Martinez of Elche, finished thirteenth (1:57:36.60) and also earned a spot at the Games. “This is what the Spanish team deserves,” concluded De Valdes.
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