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Open water swimmer Richard Weinberger, of Victoria, B.C., trains for the London 2012 Summer Olympics at the University of British Columbia Aquatic Centre in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday June 29, 2012. (DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Open water swimmer Richard Weinberger, of Victoria, B.C., trains for the London 2012 Summer Olympics at the University of British Columbia Aquatic Centre in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday June 29, 2012. (DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Weinberger wins final World Cup open water race prior to Olympics Add to ...

Open water swimmer Richard Weinberger of Victoria couldn’t have a bigger boost heading into his Olympic debut in London than his first World Cup gold medal.

Weinberger, 22, took the men’s 10 kilometre race at the FINA open water event at Roberval, Que.

“This race allows me to build some confidence which is what I wanted to achieve here,” said Weinberger who was timed in one hour and 56 minutes 5.04 seconds. “It was a hard race. The last three laps were faster and I increased the rhythm. It augurs well for London,” said the Moose Jaw, Sask., native.

He finished the close race ahead of Arthur Frayler of the United States, in second at 1:56:07.01 and Christian Reichert of Germany in third at 1:56:09.01. Xavier Desharnais of Sherbrooke, Que., was fifth and Aimeson King of Victoria seventh.

Weinberger already had a positive memory of London, winning the Olympic test event on the Serpentine course last summer at Hyde Park, then winning the Pan American Games at Guadalajara, Mexico. During this World Cup season, Weinberger collected a silver in Argentina, and a bronze in Brazil.

He qualified for the Canadian Olympic team in Portugal last month, by placing second in the men’s 10 kilometre marathon ahead of Bulgarian star Petar Stoychev.

In the women’s 10 kilometre race, Eva Fabian led the U.S., to a 1-2 finish with Christine Jennings second and Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil third.

Zsofia Balazs of Toronto, also tuning up for the London Games, was fifth and Béatrice Pineau of Quebec City sixth. Nadine Williams of Edmonton was 11th and Sarah-Lee Hevey of 12th.

Balaz, the first national champion in the women’s 10 kilometre race, is now Canada’s first qualifier for the marathon swimming event at the Olympic Games since it joined the program in 2008.

At the Olympics, the women’s 10 kilometre race is August 9 and the men’s 10 kilometre is August 10.

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