SETUBAL, Portugal – Stephanie Horner of Beaconsfield, Que., finished 15th in the women’s 10 kilometre race on Saturday at the FINA Marathon Swimming Olympic Games Qualification Tournament to reserve her ticket for Rio 2016.
Rio will be Horner’s third Olympic Games. She competed in the pool in 2008 and 2012. She switched from the pool to open water less than two years ago.
“It feels awesome, I don’t think the reality of going to a third Games has hit me yet,” said Horner, 27. “Having my parents here and all the messages of support I received from back really gave me a big boost.”
Xin Xin of China took the gold medal in one hour and 55 minutes and 12.10 seconds with Keri-Anne Payne of Britain second and Samantha Arevalo of Ecuador second and third in a photo finish 1:55:12.90. Horner clocked 1:57:26.40 to gain the Olympic spot as the top finisher from the Americas outside the top-10.
“The laps were shorter for this race which kept the swimmers in bunches at the turns,” said Horner. “There was less time to spread yourself and it made for a messy race. The first pack broke up on the last lap and I was able to leave the second one behind.
“It feels awesome, I don’t think the reality of going to a third Games has hit me yet… so many people believed I could be good at (open water) that i started to believe it myself.”
After the 2012 London Games, Horner was encouraged to try open water.
“I wasn’t really that interested in switching to open water but so many people believed I could be good at it that I started to believe it myself,” she said. “It’s an event where experience counts so I decided to take up the challenge.”
Jade Dusablon of Quebec City was 17th in 1:57:30.60.