Double for Szabo, shockers from Tchorz and Martinenghi, Wellbrock reinforces his reign
Hungary’s Szebasztian Szabo became the first swimmer to clinch a second gold after a blast in the men’s 50m free. Kira Toussaint kept the Netherlands among the elite circles in the medal table, though top-ranked Russia also carried on claiming medals – the ‘daily’ golds were landed by Svetlana Chimrova in the 200m fly and the women’s medley relay. Alicja Tchorz of Poland upset the field in the 100m IM, while the grand duel of Florian Wellbrock and Gregorio Paltrinieri went to the German again.
Italy still got gold as Nicolo Martinenghi became a surprise victor in the 100m breast – so his team stands with 15 medals in total after three days, though Russia leads the ranks as they already bagged 5 titles. Italy’s emperor Greg Paltrinieri was ruling the men’s 1500m virtually unchallenged, in Europe from 2012 and in the world from 2014 through 2017, both in the long and the short pool. Then in 2017, he could add another l/c world title to his treasury but his kingdom got under attack in Copenhagen, then by Ukraine’s Mykhailo Romanchuk. Soon in Glasgow 2018, the upcoming German Florian Wellbrock broke Paltrinieri’s winning streak in the 50m pool too. In the previous edition of the short-course Europeans, again in Glasgow, he managed to regain his title – though in the absence of his two biggest rivals. Apart from that, partly due to his attention being channeled more towards open water, the younger challengers took over his reigns.
Now came another mighty duel between him and Florian Wellbrock, and again, the German bettered him, pulling away in the second half of the race with ease and he got even very close to Paltrinieri’s WR (was only 1.28sec shy of it). As of now, Wellbrock, world champion in the 1500m free in 2019 and Olympic champion in the 10km in Tokyo seems to have just launched a similar ruling over the longer distances that Paltrinieri had in the previous decade.
On contrary, in the shortest free event, the outcome was somewhat surprising – though Hungary’s Szebasztian Szabo had already sent strong signs a day ago when he qualified with the best time and soon won the 100m fly. Racing through the entire autumn, Szabo was really in the mood since the start of this meet, rather already last week in the World Cup leg held here, so finishing first was not a huge upset after all. Fuelled by yesterday’s WR in the relay, Italy’s Lorenzo Zazzeri came second on lane 7, while the race for the bronze saw four men hitting the wall inside 0.04sec – two of them, Poland’s Pawel Jurasek and former king of the distance Russia’s Vlad Morozov was tied for the third place. While these nations are famous for producing rockets, Szabo became the first-ever among the Magyars to win the dash in any major meets, long or short course alike – and also the first one here to claim a second individual title.
Another shocker came in the women’s 100m IM where Sarah Sjostrom was the overwhelming favorite but the Swede, admittedly, could not bounce back from her 100m free SF, held 25min earlier. While she was the only one under 58sec in the semis on Thursday, this time she finished with 58.05, while Poland’s Alicja Tchorz had a brilliant first 50m and she didn’t let her 0.40sec advantage go. Well, in the end, she needed some luck as Russia’s Maria Kameneva launched a fiery finish but she ended up 0.01sec shy of the Polish.
The women’s 200m events went ‘according to schedule’. Kira Toussaint enjoyed a great run in the World Cup where she barely missed the top of the podium in any of the backstroke events (she was 11 for 12, only a 50m gold eluded her) – the Dutch clinched her first gold here comfortably, ahead of long-course Italian queen Margherita Panziera and surprise (and crying) medallist Lena Grabowski of Austria.
In the fly, Svetlana Chimrova looked to be a sure bet based on the heats and semis – at the end the final got more exciting than expected as Denmark’s Helena Bach came closer and closer over the homecoming leg. She gained more than a second on the favorite, but Chimrova managed to keep a tiny margin of 0.05sec by the end.
The men’s 100m breast final brought another proof that it’s challenging to offer gradually improving performances in this stroke. Ilya Symanovich fell victim to this – the Belorussian blasted the second-best ever time in the semis (55.45, just 0.11 under his WR) but he was unable to repeat that swim in the final. Italy’s Nicolo Martinenghi could stay close throughout the race and his finish proved to be faster. Even Dutchman Arno Kamminga was to catch Shymanovich but at least he out-touched the other rival by 0.02 for 55.77 – however, Martinenghi’s 55.63 was enough for the gold this time. On a side note: Shymanovich may end up topping the prize-money chart thanks to his SF effort which is ranked first by FINA points (994) after three days – a rare scenario that one with a silver medal cashes in the highest amount.
Russia landed the other relay gold among the women – this was much tighter than their win in the 4x50m free. Though they were leading all the way, the Swedes really did their utmost by two 0.08sec takeovers and Sjostrom’s incredible 20.94 anchor leg but Russia prevailed by 0.13sec at the end – Italy got the bronze, medal No. 15 for them.