Former Trojan swimmer Ous Mellouli of Tunisia, already in possession of a bronze in the 1500-meter freestyle at the London Olympics, won the Marathon 10K in Hyde Park today to become the first Olympian to win indoor and open water medals in the same games.
Mellouli, a novice in open water swimming, broke free of a pack of leaders on the fifth of six laps in the 10,000-meter race to win in 1:49:55.1. The gold was the second of his career. He also won the 1500-meter freestyle in 2008.
German Thomas Lurz was second in 1:49:58.5 while Canadian Richard Weinberger was third in 1:50:00.3.
“I’ve been struggling, with my shoulder, my elbow, I had a virus. What happened today is a miracle if you believe in miracles,” Mellouli said.
“This thing just hurts. You’re in pain. Once you hit a wall, you just keep pushing, when you hit a wall again, you keep pushing.”
In his second year as a graduate swimming coach with the Trojans, Mellouli graduated from USC in 2007 with a degree in computer engineering and computer science from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.
Earlier in the games on Aug. 4, Mellouli placed second to China’s Sun Yang in the 1500-meter freestyle.
As a USC freshman in 2003, Mellouli proved to be an immediate force for the Trojans, establishing himself as one of the top swimmers in the country. He earned a team-high five All-American honors, three individually and two on relays, at the NCAA.
Mellouli made his Olympic debut for Tunisia in 2000. Eight years later in Beijing, he became the first person to defeat Australia’s Grant Hackett in the 1500 meters in 11 years, winning the gold medal for Tunisia’s first-ever swimming Olympic title. Mellouli won the gold despite battling two herniated disks in his back that limited his training leading up to the games.
Swimming for his native Tunisia in 2009, Mellouli became the second-fastest person ever in the 1500-meter freestyle when he won the gold medal at the World Championships in 14:37.28. He added to his gold by winning silver medals in the 400- and 800-meter freestyle.
Mellouli remained among the world’s top swimmers in 2010. His season was capped by four medals at the 2010 Short Course World Championships in Dubai, including a gold in the 1500-meter freestyle.