TOKYO — Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil won the women’s 10-kilometer Olympic marathon swimming event in Tokyo on Wednesday.
Cunha touched first in 1 hour, 59 minutes, 30.8 seconds, finishing nine-tenths of a second ahead of defending champion Sharon van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands. Van Rouwendaal took silver in 1:59.31.7.
Kareena Lee of Australia earned bronze in 1:59.32.5.
Cunha won her first medal in her third Olympics. She was 10th five years ago in Rio de Janeiro and fifth in the 2008 Beijing Games.
American Haley Anderson finished sixth and teammate Ashley Twichell was seventh.
Cunha and Twichell traded the lead through the first five laps before the American dropped back to fourth. Leonie Beck of Germany moved into first ahead of Cunha on lap six. The Brazilian fought back and took over the lead for good, slapping the overhead timing device to clinch the gold.
Sporting green-and-yellow hair resembling the colors of Brazil’s flag, Cunha smiled and signaled No. 1 after getting out of the water.
The seven-lap race began at 6:30 a.m. local time in an attempt to beat the searing heat and humidity.
The air temperature during the latter stages of the race was 86 degrees Fahrenheit, with 74% humidity that made it feel like 95 degrees.
The water temperature was about 84 degrees, under the allowable limit of 88 degrees.
The Odaiba Marine Park course in Tokyo Bay featured a backdrop of skyscrapers, the Rainbow Bridge and the nearby floating Olympic rings.
Alice Dearing, the first Black female swimmer to represent Britain in the Olympics, finished 19th. She made news before the Games with her bid to wear an extra-large cap designed specifically for thick and curly hair.
FINA rejected the cap, citing no previous instances in which swimmers needed “caps of such size and configuration.”
Brazil’s Ana Marcela Cunha takes gold in women’s marathon swimming event at Tokyo Games
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