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Page last updated at 03:10 GMT, Thursday, 21 August 2008 04:10 UK

Battling Davies wins 10km silver

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Video - Davies takes open water swimming silver

Britain's David Davies just missed out on Olympic gold in the men's 10km swim after a brave performance at Shunyi.

He led for most of the race but was pipped by just 1.5 seconds by Dutchman Maarten van der Weijden, who came home in one hour 51 minutes 51.6 seconds.

Welshman Davies made a decisive move with around 800m to go but drifted offline in the final stages, allowing Van der Weijden to capitalise.

Germany's Thomas Lurz took the bronze, a further 0.5 seconds back.

"It's going to take a while for it to sink in," said Davies, who also won a bronze in the 1500m in Athens four years ago. "But it's a proud moment for me."

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Video - Hardest race of my life - Davies

It was Britain's third medal in the open-water events after Keri-Anne Payne and Cassie Patten won silver and bronze respectively in Wednesday's women's race.

Davies took to the front early on, but Van der Weijden, who was fourth in this year's World Championships in Seville and won the 25km event, timed his challenge just right.

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"I gave it everything and that was what I wanted to do and I have something to show for it," said Barry-bred Davies, who needed treatment at the end of the race.

"I like swimming from the front but that last lap was a real struggle and the final section was a blur.

"I was delirious but the stretcher at the end was a bit mad. I just wanted to lie down and have a sleep."

Davies, 23, admitted he still had a lot to learn about the event.

"I've only done three races and am still learning and I have probably been done here for experience," he said. "I need to learn to swim straight, I know that sounds silly."

It's almost like a Lance Armstrong story - he's a complete gentleman and a great ambassador for the sport

Davies on Van der Weijden

Davies had competed in the 1500m earlier in the Games but missed out on a medal, finishing down in sixth place.

Van der Weijden was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2001 but recovered and began swimming faster than before he had the disease.

He now commits a large portion of his time to raising awareness for the disease and raised 50,000 with a charity swim in 2004.

"That guy is an absolute legend," Davies said of the Dutchman. "He's a great guy. He's a really tough competitor, his story's amazing and one that can inspire people.

"It's almost like a Lance Armstrong story. He's a complete gentleman and a great ambassador for the sport.

"I said to him at the end that I was really proud of him. What he has achieved is phenomenal."

Van der Weijden, 27, added: "I think the leukaemia taught me to think step-by-step.

"When you are lying in a hospital bed and feeling tired, you don't want to think about next month or next week, you only think about the next hour.

"You have to be patient, you lie in your bed and just wait. I think that's almost the same strategy as I used here, you stay in the pack, be patient, stay easy and wait for your chance."

Davies doused a belligerent Chinese official with a bottle of water as he spoke to the media prior to the medal ceremony.

As officials tried to steer him towards the podium, he took offence to the man-handling he was receiving.

After telling one overly aggressive official to "shut up", he eventually threw the contents of his water bottle at a female official before calling an end to his interview.


see also
British duo take 10km swim medals
20 Aug 08 |  Swimming
Mellouli claims 1500m swim gold
17 Aug 08 |  Swimming
Swimming on the BBC
02 Oct 07 |  Swimming


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