TUNISIAN crowd favourite Oussama Mellouli has won the men's 10 kilometre marathon swim in Hyde Park with a dominant display, adding to his 1500m freestyle gold from Beijing and streaking away from the field including Australia's Ky Hurst who finished 20th.
Renowned as a pool swimmer, and having previously only competed in open water swims more as part of his training for the 1500, the 28 year-old was a clear standout in the race, with his smooth stroke, measured stroke rate and ability to inject pace at the right time.
Mellouli covered the 10km in an impressive one hour 49:55.1s with Germany's Thomas Lurz (1:49:58.5) second and Canada's Richard Weinberger taking bronze in 1:50:00.0.
For Hurst, Australia's and only representative in the race, the event slipped away at the half way mark with the multiple-Australian ironman champion unable to explain exactly what went wrong, finishing in one hour 51:41.3s, almost two minutes off the gold medal.
"My preparation leading into this has been awesome and I was probably swimming better than I have ever swum before, especially only 12 months ago when I placed fifth at world's and I felt I was swimming better now than I was then and was before Beijing," Hurst said.
"I've got no excuses and was just a little bit shocked that I couldn't back that last half up which is usually the better part of my race.
"The first lap I didn't feel real crash hot and I just wanted to spin the arms over a little bit and get into a good rhythm. The second and third lap I felt good, I felt comfortable and felt like I stayed out of trouble. Even when I did get into a bit of trouble I felt that I could handle it pretty well and then things started unfolding after that third lap and I'm not sure what happened and I'm a bit confused by it all to be honest."
With Mellouli making his move at the fourth lap, Hurst dropped from around 13th to 20th over the final lap but was still upbeat about competing in what he said was 'by far the best Olympics I've been involved in'.
"Obviously with Mellouli winning today shows just how fit he was having backed up from a fast heat and then a fast final in the 1500m freestyle last week. The depth of open water swimming has excelled, Thomas Lurz placed second and he's a pure open water swimmer these days, but yeah I think it's great to have these pool swimmers come across and it definitely lifts the profile of the sport."
Hurst ruled out a third Olympic Games in Rio, but has said he will be back in training for the ironman series after a bit of a break.
"I'll take a break now, maybe a week or two, but I need to get back on my craft and get some size back, I've lost a bit of size over the last few months with all this swimming."