Beixiaoying Town, China (Sports Network) - Cancer survivor Maarten van der Weijden of the Netherlands captured the gold medal in the men's 10km open swimming race on Thursday at the Olympics, finishing a scant 1.5 seconds ahead of Great Britain's David Davies.
Thomas Lurz of Germany won the bronze medal and was a full two seconds behind van der Weijden's pace of 1 hour, 51 minutes, 51.6 seconds.
The result completed a fairy tale comeback for the 27-year-old van der Weijden, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2001. That put a hold on his swimming career, but he came back for the 2003 and '04 Open Water World Championships. He now dedicates time to the fight against cancer.
"It taught me to think step by step and to be patient," said van der Weijden of his cancer battle. "When you are in so much pain lying in a hospital bed you aren't thinking about the next month, but the next hour. This is the same strategy I used here staying in the pack and waiting for my chance."
Russia's Vladimir Dyatchin, considered one of the favorites for the race, was disqualified from the race for getting a red card since he was too physical.
"I struggled in the water with a lot of athletes around me," said Dyatchin. "I didn't want to push them."
American Mark Warkentin was eighth.
"With 2km to go we were face to face and he smile at me," said Warkentin of van der Weijden. "He's a great guy, but the kind you don't want to mess with. He's a ship and the rest of us are yachts, and you have to find your way around that big old vessel."
08/21 01:15:52 ET