Australia have claimed their first swimming gold medal at the World Aquatic Championships in Doha, clinching a nail-biting win in the 4 x 1500m mixed open-water event.
The team of Moesha Johnson, Chelsea Gubecka, Nicholas Sloman and Kyle Lee held off a fast-finishing Italy to win by two-tenths of a second in the Qatari capital, on Thursday.
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Italy’s Domenico Acerenza had surged to the lead heading into the final stretch of the race, but Lee pegged him back beautifully before hitting the touchpad 0.2 seconds before him.
West Australian Lee, 21, touched in a time of one hour three minutes and 28 seconds to narrowly pip the defending-champion Italians (1.03:28:20), with fellow Europeans Hungary (1.04:06:80) claiming bronze more than 28 seconds behind.
In what is considered the marathon of swimming, it was remarkable that over a cumulative 6000m in open water, the quinella could be split by just two tenths of a second.
Moesha Johnson, Chelsea Gubecka, Sloman Nicholas and Lee Kyle of Australia celebrate after winning the gold medal in the open-water 4 x 1500m relay. Credit: Mondadori Portfolio/Getty Images
The Aussies had a nervous wait before it was confirmed though, with photos of the replay needing to be reviewed before the result was locked in.
Hot favourites France finished sixth, behind Germany and the US.
Australia’s victory comes a day after 25-year-old Gubecka picked up silver in the 5km open-water race, narrowly beaten after a thrilling duel with Dutch superstar Sharon van Rouwendaal.
The mixed relay success was the Dolphins’ second gold of the meet after another Queenslander, 22-year-old Alysha Koloi, took out the women’s 1m springboard event.
With Australia’s campaign in the diving and open water swimming now complete, attention will turn to the pool for the inside swimming section of the World Aquatic Championships.
– With AAP