20 Years Later, Fukuoka Will Only Get Better

Men’s 5 km race at the 2001 FINA World Swimming Championships

Women’s 5 km race at the 2001 FINA World Swimming Championships

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Back in 2001 at the FINA World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, there were 6 outstanding races with the Italian, Russian, German, Dutch and French swimmers dominating the competition. Russia’s Yevgeny Bezruchenko and Italy’s Viola Valli stood out with 2 gold medals each.

In the 5 km, Italy’s Luca Baldini won gold with Bezruchenko and Italy’s Marco Formentini in second and third respectively. In the 10 km, Bezruchenko took the gold with Russian teammate Vladimir Dyatchin and Italian Fabio Venturini joining him on the podium. In the 25 km, Russia’s Yuri Kudinov won gold in a long battle with France’s Stéphane Gomez and Stéphane Lecat.

On the women’s side, it was Viola Valli winning the 5 km over Germany’s Peggy Büchse and Australia’s Hayley Lewis. Valli also won the 25 km over the Netherland’s Edith van Dijk and Germany’s Angela Maurer. In the 10 km, Büchse came out on top over Russia’s Irina Abysova and Edith van Dijk.

The races were all held in Momochi Beach within a short walking distance to the athletes’ hotel with rooms that overlooked the calm Hakata Bay.

Twenty years after these events, the Japanese will host another FINA championship: the 2021 FINA World Championships along with the FINA World Masters Championships.

FINA President Dr. Julio C. Maglione said, “Fukuoka [is a] strong partner of FINA and will offer optimal conditions for the organisation of these Championships. There is a very strong commitment from the local authorities to welcome this event in their respective dynamic metropolis.”

The Japanese delegation is headed by an unusually young mayor, Mayor Soichiro Takashima. “I am only 41 years old, so I am a relatively young mayor for a city of 1.5 million people, the sixth largest in Japan. But I believe I represent this metropolis quite well, as Fukuoka is also a young city, known for its enthusiasm for aquatic sports. We had a great experience in 2001, and after the staging of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, we will have an additional opportunity to develop this successful tradition.

Fukuoka’s plans are simple: Compact in size, Big in enthusiasm. All the venues for the six aquatic disciplines, including the four open water swimming events, will be held within a 600-meter area. “We want to create a standard for the future editions of the FINA World Championships,” said Mayor Takashima.

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association