Hector Pardoe finished in first place and took the gold medal in Sunday’s Fina Marathon Olympic 10,000m qualification race, held in Setubal.

Taking place in Portugal, the event was attended by over 110 of the World’s top distance swimmers from all five continents and 47 national federations.

From the offset the former Ellesmere Titans swimmer was up to speed with the pace of the race, staying within the front chase pack of the 63-strong field, as Japan’s Takeshi Toyoda went solo up ahead for the opening four laps.

Coming into the final lap with 2,000 metres to go, Pardoe sat in third position having swum a tactical race - biding his time and conserving energy.

In the final lap he upped the pace, overhauling Takeshi Toyoda and with 500m to go sprinted for the finish line, winning by over five seconds ahead of Athanasios Kynigakis from Greece.

Hector said: “The felling is indescribable.

“After taking such a big risk moving my life to France, not speaking the language, having to fend for myself in a foreign country - which was made even harder by the covid restrictions and not being able to see my family for six months at a time.

“Then of course the intensity of my training, averaging 85k every week for the last two years, it all has resulted in something that I’m so proud of.

“Obviously, I’m ecstatic to get the qualification spot but also to get the win on top of that, I was thinking before the race that I was a contender for winning the race, but the pressure and my mind were more focused on the qualification spot.

“I can’t tell you have many times I’ve dreamt of winning this race. The power of positive thinking.

“Despite it being a really tough race, with frustrating conditions including strong currents, high winds and big waves, I felt good in the water throughout.”

Hector’s Olympic qualification comes on the back of him having finished seventh at the Fina World Series Marathon in Doha in March; eighth at the European Championships in Hungary in May and having smashed the British 25,000 Open Water record, being the first ever British Swimmer to dip under five hours, at the French National Championships held back in September 2020.

The 20-year-old, is orginally from Wrexham but learned his craft as a star of Whitchurch Wasps and Ellesmere College Titans before breaking into the Great Britain elite rankings which has culminated in Olympic Games qualification.