|Date||21 August 2008 — 9:00|
|Location||Shunyi Aolinpike Shuishang Gongyuan, Mapo, Shunyi (Shunyi Rowing-Canoeing Park)|
|Participants||25 from 24 countries|
The introduction of open water swimming into the Olympics had completely changed the climate of the event. Formerly the domain of specialist marathon swimmers, the lure of Olympic gold had begun to attract those with a high class background in the 1500 metres. The favoured swimmers soon moved to the front of the pack as Britain’s David Davies took the lead from an early stage and one by one the rest of the field dropped away until just a trio of swimmers were left in contention. Davies still led with a few hundred metres to go but he drifted away from the finishing funnel and had to cut sharply back onto the right path to the finish. This gave Holland’s Maarten van der Weijden the opportunity to pull ahead in the race for gold and he was not to waste his change and finished clear of the chasing pair of Davies, who held on for silver, and Germany’s Thomas Lurz. The reigning World Champion, Vladimir Dyatchin of Russia, had the ignominy of being disqualified for obstructing fellow swimmers.
Van der Weijden’s victory was amongst the most emotional triumphs of the entire 2008 Games as his promising career has seemingly ended in 2001 when he was diagnosed with leukemia. With the aid of stem cell treatment he had returned after a two-year absence to resume his swimming career. Van der Weijden had won bronze at the 2006 European Championships in the 10K. At the 2008 World Championships in open water swimming, he won the gold medal in the 25 km. In 2018 he attempted to swim the entire course of the famed speed skating race through canals, the elfstedentocht, to raise money for cancer research, a 200 km swim. Van der Weijden swam sections of the course over 3 days but finally had to stop due to illness only 10 km from finishing the entire course.
|1||17||Maarten van der Weijden||NED||1-51:51.6||Gold|
|14||1||Allan do Carmo||BRA||1-52:16.6|