Russian gold in women's 10km swim
Larisa Ilchenko wins women's swim marathon in event's Olympic debut.
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2008 06:26 GMT
Ilchenko's late charge overcame a strong British challenge to take gold [GALLO/GETTY]

Russia's Larisa Ilchenko has taken gold in the women's 10km swim marathon, after a last minute burst of energy pushed her to a narrow lead in the event's Olympic debut.

Ilchenko won Wednesday's race in a time of 1 hour 59.27, narrowly edging out Britain's Keri-Anne Payne who led for most of the race and came in less than a second later to claim silver.

Payne's British compatriot Cassandra Patten took bronze in 1:59.31, while South African Natalie du Toit, the first amputee to qualify for the Olympic games, finished 16th.

Ilchenko, 19, has dominated open water swimming since 2004, winning five consecutive 5km world championships and three straight 10km races.

The Beijing games mark the first time the women's 10km swim marathon has been held as an Olympic event.

An hour into the race held in Beijing’s Shunyi rowing-canoeing park British duo Payne and Patten had opened up a five metre gap over the leaders, including Ilchenko.

The race marked the Olympic debut of the women's swim marathon [GALLO/GETTY]
But as the two hour mark approached the two Britons began to tire and the Russian was able to pull ahead in the final 100 metres.

South African amputee du Toit finished in 16th place with a highly respectable time of 2 hours 49.9 seconds, despite the fact that she lost most of her left leg seven years ago following a motor scooter accident.

"I went out there and gave it everything, which was my goal," she said. "I had a good race but I'm glad it is over.

"In another couple of days I've got the Paralympics so I've got to get back in that water and train."

Al Jazeera and agencies
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