South Africa’s Chad Ho is the current open water world champion in the 5km swim, and is aiming to take that form into the Olympic 10km event, which he admits could be anyone’s game.
Two South Africans, Ho and Matthew Meyer, form part of the 25-man field for the 10km race in Rio on August, and he is hoping that the event gains popularity when it is hosted at Fort Copacabana later in the month.
The aquatics programme at Rio 2016 will end with the long distance swim, and Ho, who won the 5km race at the 2015 world championships in Kazan, understands that it is not a sport that easily grabs the interest of spectators.
“We could definitely do with a lot more recognition for the sport. I can understand that people don’t want to sit down and watch an event for two hours; they want racing to be over in a matter of seconds,” Ho admitted, according to YahooSports.
“But if you actually watch the race there are so many things that go on. It’s just as exciting as the pool events. A lot of races end in photo finishes. But I feel it’s on the way up,” the South African added.
The 10km open water competitor and eight time Midmar Mile winner believes that either of the 25 individuals who will take part in the Olympic swim can return home with the gold medal, due to a number of varying factors.
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“Being the world champion at 5km title could help me to a certain extent but I swim both distances and have no preference,” the 26-year-old said, referring to the 5km and 10km versions of the sport.
“This is a race where there are no favourites, where past times don’t really matter. It all depends on the day, who wants it most, who is feeling good, who takes the right line. All 25 have a realistic shot at the medal. The sea conditions also pay a big part,” he added.
In the run up to the Games in Brazil, there have been numerous negative issues that have grabbed the headlines, with the water quality in sea that will be the venue for the the long distance swim coming into focus, due to the poor quality of the water and pollution problems.
This has not phased the South African, however, as he has swam in those waters previously, and is not concerned about making his way through Fort Copacabana.
“I feel it’s not an issue at all. I didn’t see any pollution. Obviously with the Zika virus it’s a concern but we have to be careful and take precautions,” Ho concluded.