2000 World Open Water Swimming Championships – Men's 5 km
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Open Water Worlds
The Men's 5 km Open Water event at the 2000 World Open Water Swimming Championships was held on October 31, 2000 in Honolulu.
The men's 5K was not without controversy as the results of the finish were held up for over one hour while officials reviewed the videotapes in response to a protest filed by the Italian team. Of the 33 male swimmers entered, one athlete was disqualified, another did not compete and the other 31 churned the waters for 60 minutes of excitement.
Yevgeny Bezruchenko of Russia won with a time of 59:18.23, but it was the two athletes competing for the silver medal that made things interesting for the spectators and caused the officials to huddle over the videotapes of the finish. The Italian team protested that David Meca of Spain pushed Luca Baldini of Italia underwater as the two fought for the finish. The Italian team's argument was that Baldini who was leading at the time had the right of way, but the officials were unable to confirm an offense committed by Meca and declared him the silver medalist.
About 30 meters from the finish of the men's race, Meca and Baldini were matching strokes in the lead as Bezruchenko closed rapidly. About 10 meters from the finish, there was contact between Meca and Baldini. That might have slowed them enough to allow Bezruchenko, swimming a few yards to their right, to sneak by and touch the computerized finishing pad first.
Meca indicated that his performance was "my best 5K ever, only the finish was difficult. The course was beautiful and I saw a sea turtle swimming below me, but fortunately I was swimming faster." Meca felt that Baldini cost him the victory. "We fought over the last 50 meters and he was pushing me to the left side" he said. "I lost the gold for sure because of that. You have to be a little bit aggressive, but I don't think this sport is about that. I am happy, though because this is my worst event and I still have the 10K and 25K to race."
Baldini indicated that he was "happy with his race but very sad for what happened to him at the finish line."
Some of the swimmers claimed the race was very physical throughout, but Bezruchenko did not seem aware of it. "It was hard to get a good position, though" he said through an interpreter.
"It was an aggressive race, but you have to expect that in a field like this," said Flanagan, who had hoped to medal. "I think I waited too long. I was back with the second pack during the first half of the race. I started moving up on the way back, but the current carried us faster than I had anticipated."
Key: DNS = Did not start, DQ = Disqualified