SETUBAL, Portugal – Hau-Li Fan of Burnaby, B.C. finished 17th in the 10-km race at the FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier on Sunday to qualify him for nomination to the Olympic Team.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Fan. “It was unexpected but I’ll take it.”
The 23-year-old, who trains at the High Performance Centre – Vancouver, earned his spot through the continental placing by finishing as the top Americas swimmer outside of the top 10.
Along with Kate Sanderson, who qualified Saturday in the women’s race, this will be Fan’s first Olympic Games.
“Great job by coach Brad Dingey who coaches both Kate and Hau-Li,” said National Distance and Open Water Coach, Mark Perry. “It’s great getting two of them qualified for the Olympics.”
Hector Pardoe of Great Britain finished first by five seconds, followed by Athanasios Kynigakis of Greece, and Tobias Robinson of Great Britain in third. Only one swimmer per country can qualify for the Olympic Games meaning Robinson missed out on punching his ticket to Tokyo.
Fan started the race in the middle of the pack for the first three laps, but made his move on the fourth lap moving up 22 spots. He held his position for the final lap and finished 17th.
“The race itself was quite hard, there was a lot of people throughout the race even at the finish,” said Fan. “It was also my first wetsuit race so I struggled a little bit but I feel my next race at the Olympics will be much better and I’ll be much more prepared.”
The race consisted of 55 male swimmers completing five laps of a two-kilometre course at the Parque Urbano de Albarquel venue in Setubal.
“Hau-Li qualified for the continental spot which is a good result for him. It was a very difficult competition and he is now looking forward to spending a few weeks to put right some of the things that went wrong in that race,” said Perry. “We are looking forward to going to do that together with him and Kate.”
Japanese swimmer Takeshi Toyoda took off at the start and was way ahead of the rest of the field for the first four laps but he couldn’t hold on. The front pack passed him on the final lap and he ended up finishing 22nd, behind his teammate Taishun Minamide.
Canadian swimmer Eric Hedlin, of Victoria, started the race off strong sticking at the front of the pack but unfortunately had to leave the race on the third lap to seek medical help.
“That was an extremely tough race for Hau-Li and Eric,” said Perry. “Eric was unable to finish the race but he’s well now and he’s out of the medical tent.”
Hedlin has won multiple international medals in open water since 2013. At his FINA World Championships debut he captured a silver medal in the 5-km race. Five years later, he got himself back on the podium by winning a silver medal in the 10-km open water race at the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships. The following year, he captured another medal, a bronze in the 5-km open race at the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships.
Sanderson and Fan will stay with Mark Perry and their coach Brad Dingey in Portugal for a pre-Olympic training camp until they leave for Tokyo and compete at the Olympic Games.
For more information and results please click here: https://www.fina.org/competitions/8/fina-olympic-marathon-swim-qualifier-2021