After sustaining a cut above his right eye with a lap to go, Hector Pardoe unfortunately had to withdraw from the Men’s 10km Marathon Swimming event at Tokyo 2020.
Having secured his Games debut with a sterling sprint finish victory just over a month ago at the FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier, Pardoe lined up on the pontoon at Odaiba Marine Park among a 26-strong world class field.
The tough conditions presented to the women's race just 24-hours earlier remained, with water temperature again just within the legal limit as the starting gun went off to get things underway. The pace early on was set by the eventual gold medal winner Florian Wellbrock (GER), as Pardoe sat towards the tail of the main chase pack in the early kilometres.
As the race went on the field became strung out and the Montpellier based Pardoe found himself further down the standings than desired, but worked hard to move up from 20th to 13th between the fourth and fifth lap.
With a further injection of pace set to be applied in the business end of the contest, Pardoe was caught with an elbow to the face that ultimately inflicted his withdrawal due to a cut above the eye, compounded further by the absence of his goggles which only further reduced his sighting in the water.
After receiving medical attention, the 20-year-old Olympic debutant explained:
“I’ve never not finished a 10km before, so yeah it’s really disappointing it’s in the Olympics, the biggest stage of them all. I’ve been progressing through every race this year and thought I had a good chance of doing something good here.
“My googles completely snapped off [in the impact] and I couldn’t see a thing – my eye swelled up and I didn’t realise how bad it was, it was all blurry in my eye. I would have of tried to continue if I had my goggles, but they had gone and I couldn’t race.”
Adding his assessment of the race he continued:
“I obviously saw from the start it was such a fast pace and I was towards the back, but I tried to calm down and bring it back and secure a top ten or twelve finish. I was coming through the field and felt ok with a lap to go, I felt like I could of secured that and then it was over.
“It was really hot, I noticed my heartrate was really high on the first lap when I wasn’t even pushing that much, so it’s nothing I’ve ever really experienced before - I think the hottest I’ve ever done is like 23 degrees so to jump to 29 is really difficult.
“I knew that after three laps it was over for
anything top six, but I just wanted to finish and get that top twelve because I’m
still young and know I can come back stronger in Paris and hopefully try and challenge
for the medals.”