Fantastic championships are ahead
“We are very happy to return to London and really grateful for British Swimming to host this great event here, in the London Aquatic Centre” LEN President Paolo Barelli said while speaking at the European Aquatics Championships’ opening press conference.
President Barelli hailed the British hosts for the tremendous job they did to stage memorable competitions in the following two weeks in the London Aquatic Centre. “We are happy to return to London, to the Olympic Park, where we had a fantastic Olympics four years ago. We are grateful for British Swimming to host this great event here, I’m sure it’s going to be another fantastic competition.”
Paolo Barelli recalled that the European athletes achieved outstanding results in recent years, outnumbering all other continents in terms of titles and the number of overall medals earned. “Europe is the strongest continent in aquatics so we can watch some of the greatest stars next week” the LEN President said. “Let me mention the two great Russian synchro swimmers, Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina who clinched all titles on offer for long years, or, among the divers, we have world champions Tania Cagnotto of Italy, Germany’s Patrick Hausding, Britain’s top favourite Tom Daley and Russia’s Ilya Zakharov who stunned the world by winning the Olympic gold medal in 3m here in London four years ago.”
Chairman of British Swimming, Maurice Watkins paid thanks to LEN for allocating the Europeans to London, and he was also grateful for the support of UK Sports and the Mayor of London. “It’s over 20 years when the European Championships were hosted in Great Britain and it’s almost 80 years when we had this event for the last time in London. Back in 1938 the Wembley Arena was the venue. Now we are in the London Aquatic Centre and we are committed to host another fantastic championships” Mr. Watkins concluded.
LEN Operational Manager Marco Birri announced that 43 broadcasters would provide love coverage from London, including a Japanese and a Mexican TV so the broadcasts will reach territories well beyond European boundaries. “More than half thousand media applications were approved so the exposure is definitely growing” Mr. Birri added.
In the second part of the press conference some of the outstanding athletes shared their expectations before the event. Italy’s top diver, Tania Cagnotto, clinching a world title at last in Kazan 2015, probably sees her last season in competitive sport. “Maybe this is going to be my last year, that’s why I take part in so many events. I don’t have good memories from London [she missed the Olympic medal by a painfully tiny margin of 0.20 points] but I put everything aside. There is no pressure on me, I’d like to enjoy diving and get the best possible results.”
Britain’s Chris Mears, bronze medallist in Kazan (3m synchro), thinks that competing in their home pool is a brilliant opportunity. “Last year I arrived to the Worlds missing proper trainings beforehand so it was amazing to make the podium and qualify directly to the Olympics. This year is different, we’ve reached a higher level, I learnt new dives so it’s going to be really exciting to compete in London, before big crowds.”
The Europeans are going to witness premieres: mixed synchro in diving and mixed duets in synchro will be held for the first time. World bronze medallist and World Trophy winner Italians will be among those who will highlight the debut of the mixed synchro events. Giorgio Minisini said they wished to stay among the best ones, what’s more they wanted to get better results. “It’s really amazing to compete at the European Championships now, we are about to show our very best here” Minisini said. His partner in the free routine, Mariangela Perrupato added that they hope to clinch an even better placement than in Kazan, while Manila Flamini shared her thoughts on involving males to synchro. “This gave enormous boost to this sport, we gained more attention, I think something good happened to synchro. It affects our everyday preparations, too, we are working even harder to present better routines.”
Britain’s best synchro swimmer, Olivia Federici returns to competition to the London pool after four years as she also participated here at the Olympics. That time on the hosts’ right, now they made the cut for Rio at the qualifying event which was a fine achievement. Federici also gave some insight on their preparations: “We train eight hours a day, six days a week. It takes an enormous workload to make the routine look like it’s easy: if it does than you did a great job but I can tell you it is not easy at all.”
The European Aquatics Championships kick off on Monday, the first week features the diving and synchro competitions, swimming will follow from 16 to 22 May and the Masters Europeans conclude the championships on 25-29 May. All events are held in London Aquatic Centre in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
LEN celebrates the London Europeans by launching its newly shaped website, please visit www.len.eu for more.
Press release from LEN. Photos courtesy of G. Scala / Deepbluemedia