Kazan (Russia): Italy's Simone Ruffini won the world championship men's marathon 25km open water gold medal on Saturday and celebrated by proposing to his girlfriend on the podium.
Italy's Simone Ruffini holds a sign for his girlfriend Aurora Ponsale (left) in Italian that reads "Aurora will you marry me?" as he stands atop the victory podium after winning gold in the 25km open water event at the FINA World Swimming championships in Kazan, Russia recently. Pics/AFP, Getty Images
Ruffini edged out Alex Meyer of the US and compatriot Matteo Furlan for the title after first overcoming a stomach complaint. But even that challenge was nothing compared to the nerves needed to unfurl a proposal convincing Italian teammate Aurora Ponsele to marry him just as he received his medal.
Ponsele signalled back with two fingers shaped in a heart to the delight of watching fans. "I'm happy for the gold medal and even happier that the answer to my marriage proposal to Aurora (Ponsele) was a sign of love from her," said the champion.
"This was the best moment of my life. Of course I am looking forward to the Olympic Games, but today I understand the meaning of my life". Ruffini took gold in four hours 53 minutes 10.7 seconds at Kazan's Kazanka venue with Meyer winning silver at just 4.4 secs back.