Italy’s Simone Ruffini won the world championship men’s marathon 25km open water gold medal on Saturday and celebrated by proposing to his girlfriend on the podium.
Ruffini edged out Alex Meyer of the US and compatriot Matteo Furlan for the title after first overcoming a stomach complaint, but even that challenge was nothing compared with the nerves needed to unfurl a hastily written proposal convincing Italian teammate Aurora Ponsele to marry him just as he received his medal.
Ponsele signaled back with two fingers in a heart shape to the delight of watching fans.
“I’m happy for the gold medal and even happier that the answer to my marriage proposal to Aurora was a sign of love from her,” Ruffini said.
“This was the best moment of my life. Of course, I am looking forward to the Olympic Games, but today I understand the meaning of my life,” he said.
Ruffini took gold in 4 hours, 53 minutes, 10.7 seconds at Kazan’s Kazanka venue, with Meyer winning silver just 4.4 seconds back.
Having finished fourth in the event two years ago in Barcelona, the 27-year-old American finally made it onto the podium.
Furlan claimed third after finishing 1:27.3 back and won his second bronze at the world championships after a podium place in the 5km last week.
In the women’s event, Brazil’s Ana Marcela Cunha took gold over the 25km distance with a winning time of 5.13:47.3, with Hungary’s Anna Olasz second at 26.3 back.
Germany’s Angela Maurer, who won a silver in the event at the 2013 championships, had to settle for bronze this time as she finished 1:20.3 back.
China won their eighth successive gold medal in 3m diving at the world championships when Shi Tingmao clinched victory.
Shi won with 383.55 points to edge out compatriot, and four-time gold medalist He Zi on 377.45.
Italy’s Tania Cagnotto finished third with 356.15 points.
Russia clinched the world championship synchronized swimming combined title for a third time.
The Russian team scored 98.3 points to defeat China (96.2) and Japan (93.8).
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