The running marathon is the blue riband race that brings the Olympic athletics programme to a fitting close but swimming's equivalent is still a long way off enjoying the same status, says open water world champion Chad Ho.
The South African is part of a 25-man field for the 10km race on 16 August at Fort Copacabana that will bring the swimming programme at the Rio Games to a close. "We could definitely do with a lot more recognition for the sport," says Ho. "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. 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."
It will be only the third time the event has featured at the Olympics. "I can see it getting very popular," adds Ho, winner of the 5km race at last year's World Championships in Kazan. The Olympics does not have a 5km event so Ho's focus is on the 10km, in which he finished less than a minute behind American Jordan Wilimovsky in Kazan."Being the world champion over 5km could help me to a certain extent but I swim both distances and have no preference," Ho says. "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 adds.
The 26-year-old Ho is very much the "other Chad" in the South African team, behind namesake Le Clos who won the Olympic 200 metres butterfly title in London four years ago. "In a way I'm grateful I stay under the radar," Ho reflects. "I can live a good social life and not have to worry about being in the newspapers. Whatever he does is in the spotlight and makes headlines. But on the other hand it would be nice to get a bit more recognition for being a world champion but I think that time will come.”