Kristóf Rasovszky secured the gold medal, while Dávid Betlehem claimed the sixth position, earning an Olympic quota in the 10-kilometre open water swimming event at the Doha World Championships on Sunday.
The 26-year-old Rasovszky, a two-time Olympic silver medalist, clinched his second world championship title, following his victory in the 5-kilometre event in Gwangju in 2019. This time, he triumphed in the Olympic discipline.
Twenty-year-old Betlehem achieved one of the best individual world championship results of his adult career, ensuring his Olympic participation. The young Hungarian, who finished fifth at the 2022 Budapest World Championships, demonstrated his prowess.
The conditions in the Doha Bay for the men were practically the same as those faced by the women a day earlier. Alongside pleasant temperatures, strong winds stirred significant waves in the water. In the Olympic qualification event, 79 swimmers competed for the remaining quotas. Among them were all three podium finishers from Fukuoka: defending champion Florian Wellbrock from Germany, Rasovszky, and Germany’s Oliver Klemet. Besides them, the top 13 and an additional swimmer from each continent could secure Olympic quotas.
Rasovszky, with the number 6, and Betlehem, with the number 77, started the race consisting of six laps, totalling 1660 metres each. Right from the start, the European ‘big shots,’ including the two Hungarians, set the pace and dictated a serious tempo. Rasovszky led the field at the end of the first lap.
Approaching the halfway point, he continued to set the pace at the front, but the field remained very close. Only four seconds separated the first ten, including Betlehem in fourth place. The leading pack maintained a collective pace, with the Frenchman Logan Fontaine leading at the start of the last lap, closely followed by others. With a thousand metres to go, less than two seconds separated the first and the seventh, and intense positioning battles unfolded. Rasovszky surged to the front after the final turn, securing a two-body length lead and confidently clinched victory. In the final stretch, Betlehem had a chance for the bronze medal, but after a tremendous physical battle, he ultimately finished in sixth place.
It was Hungary’s first gold medal ever in open water swimming that Rasovszky won at the Doha World Championships.
Sources: Hungarian Conservative/MTI