Turkey’s Tuncel sets new EJR, Russia claims five medals
Turkey went on collecting medals on Day 2 at the European Junior Swimming Championships as they had a 1-2 finish in the women’s 800m free and champion Merve Tuncel could also break the junior European Record. Russia switched to medal-hunting mood and bagged five including two titles while Italy managed to earn one from each color in front of home supporters in the magnificent Foro Italico.
Turkey arrived in Rome with an array of talented swimmers and after gaining three medals on the opening day they added two more (and set themselves for more in the semis). Merve Tuncel was a cut above the rest in the women’s 800m and despite trailing by 0.48sec to the EJR at the last turn, a blast over the last 50m brought her a new junior European Record (8:21.91). It was a great time in anybody’s language – it’s 9th in the 2021 world ranks and would have earned her a bronze medal at the big Europeans this May in Budapest. Compatriot Beril Boecekler finished runner-up while Italy’s Giulia Vetrano claimed the bronze, out touching Spain’s Paula Otero by 0.01sec.
The Russians began to shine in the individual events as they had done in recent editions – they also staged a 1-2 finish, in the women’s 100m free, as the two Darias, Klepikova and Tatarinova were the fastest in that final. They came back later to secure another relay gold for the Russians, this time in the mixed 4x100m free.
Italy came second in this last event of the session, ahead of Hungary, to grab the third medal of the day after Benedetta Pilato delivered the title in the women’s 50m breast. The 16-year-old Italian, who had broken the senior WR in Budapest, was outside the 30sec mark for the first time at the two Europeans (she clocked 29sec times in a row both in May and here) but her win was never in danger as Russia’s Elena Bogomolova was 0.55sec behind and Estonia’s Eneli Jefimova came further 0.23sec adrift.
In the tightest final of the evening, Poland’s Ksawery Masiuk managed to keep 0.07sec from his advantage at the end in the men’s 100m back, ahead of Ukraine’s Oleksandr Zheltyakov. In the 50m fly Josif Miladinov reinforced his favourite status: the Bulgarian, who showed some class in Budapest two months ago, is set to make the butterfly treble here in Rome.
Merve Tuncel (TUR), winner of women’s 800m free with EJR
“It’s a confirmation of my medal from the 2019 European Youth Olympic Festival. I’m very happy about the win and the record. This is the first time I swim here. The training for Tokyo is going very well.”
Ksawery Masiuk (POL), winner of the men’s 100m back
“Obviously I’m very happy for the result because it’s the first time that I swam in this pool. It’s nice to see and hear the audience in the stadium. I’m not very hopeful, but I hope to be selected for Tokyo.”
Benedetta Pilato (ITA), winner of the women’s 50m breast
“I’m happy for myself and for the team. On Thursday I will only swim the heats of the mixed 4×100 relay as a test before the Olympics. The junior national team has many young competitive and emerging athletes and is a very united group.”
Daria Klapikova (RUS), winner of the women’s 100m free
“I’m really happy with my race and I really like Rome.”
Josif Miladinov (BUL), winner of the men’s 50m fly
“The race went well, considering that my physical shape is not best. I hope to finish these Europeans with better results. Swimming here, in Rome, is a beautiful experience. It’s one of the most comfortable pools.”
Giulia Vetrano (ITA), bronze medallist, 800m free
“I improved my personal best by five seconds. I could have swum faster, but I still made the podium. It was great to race against my old rival Tuncel again whom I had already met at the Comen Cup in Bulgaria in 2019. In ten days, I’m flying to Tokyo Olympics and I hope to qualify the relay for the final together with my teammates.”
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