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Eric Hedlin shy of Olympic Cut in 10km


Victoria’s Eric Hedlin was Canada’s top swimmer on a sunny, breezy morning at Old Doha Port. The 30-year-old finished 31st, 1:56.7 behind winner Kristof Rasovszky of Hungary. France’s Marc-Antoine Olivier was 2.4 seconds behind for silver, followed by Hector Pardoe of Great Britain, who was 8 seconds off the pace for bronze.

Hedlin put himself in position to qualify for Paris 2024 for the first two-thirds of the race, staying consistently in the top 15 to 20 racers for four of the six laps before falling back. In the end, Mexican Paulo Strehlke Delgado earned the final continental spot for the Americas, finishing 1:12 ahead of Hedlin in 18th.

“I haven’t done a 10-km at the level that would have made the team before,” said the two-time 5-km medallist. “With all the races that I’ve done over the past few years I think it was in many ways a smart race. Even though I obviously wanted to make the team, I’m happy with having put myself out there and been in the running even though I just didn’t have enough energy at the end.

“I had the fitness, I had the tactics, I was just relying on maybe a little bit more luck at the end, but there was obviously many other people with just as good fitness and just as good tactics ahead of me.”

Hau-Li Fan of the High Performance Centre – Vancouver finished 36th, 3:47.5 behind Rasovszky.

“It was a really hard race right from the start but I’m pretty proud of the fact that I didn’t give up at any point in the race. Even when it got tough near the end, I was like, ‘Let’s push it and try to beat some people to finish,’ ” he said.

Fan, who finished ninth in the 10-km at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, completed his first international 10-km since taking a six-month break from training last year.

“I’m pretty happy with how far I’ve come in a short amount of time and I can’t really ask for more,” said Fan, 26. “I think I’ve done the best I can with what I’ve got.”

It’s still possible for a Canadian man to earn a Paris 2024 open water spot by making the Olympic team in the 800 or 1,500-m freestyle.

Action continues Wednesday with the 5-km races. The women start at 10:30 a.m. local time (2:30 a.m. ET), followed by the men at 1 p.m. (5 a.m. ET). Open water competition wraps up with the mixed 4×1,500-m relay Thursday at 10:30 a.m. local (2:30 a.m. ET).

“It’s the world championships so we’re going to refocus and see what we can do in the 5-km and see what we can do in the team event at the end,” said Swimming Canada Distance/Open Water Coach Mark Perry, head coach of the open water team.

“Obviously everyone’s disappointed at the moment but we have to look back at the things they’ve both achieved. Eric is a double world medallist and Pan Pacific Championships medallist, and Hau-Li’s an Olympian who finished in the Top 10 in Tokyo. They’ve had good careers and today it just didn’t work out for either of them.”

More than 2,600 athletes representing 201 countries and the World Aquatics Refugee Team are in Doha to compete in 75 medal events across six aquatic sports, including the eight-day pool swim meet beginning Feb. 11.