Aussie snatches medal in never-before-seen moment at Olympics

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Kareena Lee, pictured here after winning bronze in the marathon swim at the Tokyo Olympics.
Kareena Lee won bronze in the marathon swim at the Tokyo Olympics. Image: Getty/Channel 7

Kareena Lee has won Australia's first-ever medal in marathon swimming at the Olympics, claiming bronze in gruelling conditions in Tokyo on Wednesday.

With swimmers starting the 10km open water race early in water temperatures already at 29 degrees, Lee was in the top 10 throughout the entire event.

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The 27-year-old charged to the timing wall alongside Rio 2016 champion Sharon van Rouwendaal, with the Dutch swimmer just pipping the Australian for the silver medal.

However the bronze still marked Australia's first medal in the 13-year history of the event.

Lee becomes the first Australian to podium in the marathon swim since its introduction to the Olympics in 2008.

Lee made her move on the final lap along with Brazilian winner Ana Marcela Cunha and van Rouwendaal.

She was immediately on the phone after the race to her coach John 'JR' Rodgers, with the 82-year-old legendary swim coach unable to travel to Tokyo due to poor health.

"I'm just so stoked," she told Channel 7. "It's unbelievable.

"My first Olympics. Coming away with a medal.

"Today I was able to hold on. It hurt so, so bad, but you have to think that everybody around you is hurting too and it is who can hurt the most and coming out third today is incredible for me."

Sharon van Rouwendaal, Ana Marcela Cunha and Kareena Lee, pictured here with their medals after the marathon swim at the Olympics.
Sharon van Rouwendaal, Ana Marcela Cunha and Kareena Lee celebrate with their medals after the marathon swim. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)

Aussie former triathlete Candice Warner said in commentary for Channel 7: "What an exceptional race for Kareena Lee.

"Bronze medal at the Olympic Games. The best place ever for an Australian, male or female, in this event. 

"She will be ecstatic with that result and so should all of Australia."

Fans and commentators were also in awe of Lee's incredible display.

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Ana Marcela Cunha wins gold for Brazil

Cunha of Brazil won gold, finishing the race at just under two hours.

It is Cunha's first medal in her third Olympics. 

She was 10th five years ago in Rio and fifth at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

American Haley Anderson finished sixth and her teammate Ashley Twichell was seventh.

The seven-lap course in Tokyo Bay featured a backdrop of skyscrapers, the Rainbow Bridge and the nearby floating Olympic rings.

The air temperature during the latter stages of the race was 30 degress Celsius, with 74 percent humidity that made it feel like 35 C.

The water temperature was about 29C, under the allowable limit of 31C.

with agencies

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